A week after marking Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee, the Duke of Cambridge joined forces with the social enterprise, which offers a revenue stream to homeless people across the UK, to sell copies of the magazine in the capital.
Donning a red tabard and matching Big Issue cap, Prince William joined vendor Dave Martin at his regular pitch outside a supermarket, just 15 minutes away from Buckingham Palace. Naturally, the pair caused quite a stir with passers-by.
And in an article he wrote for the latest issue of the weekly magazine, Prince William explained why he wanted to highlight the problem of homelessness, a cause that has been close to his heart since he was first taken to visit a homeless shelter by his mother, Princess Diana, in 1993.
“I was 11 when I first visited a homeless shelter with my mother, who in her own inimitable style was determined to shine a light on an overlooked, misunderstood problem,” he wrote.
“The Big Issue had launched just two years before, offering people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income by selling a magazine to the public and providing a solution to the issues that saw a growing number of people on the streets of the nation’s capital.”
Prince William has often worked with homelessness organisations across the UK, and in 2005 was named patron of the charity Centrepoint.
However, he spoke of his want to continue to highlight the issue, especially given the rising cost of living across the country.
“Looking back helps us to see how far we’ve come, but problems are fixed in the present,” he said. “And despite all the progress, homelessness is still seen by many as some entrenched phenomenon over which we have little power. And there are worrying signs that things might soon get worse as people feel the effects of higher prices and find it harder to make ends meet.
“And although we can’t fix all of that at once, I refuse to believe that homelessness is an irrevocable fact of life. It is an issue that can be solved, but that requires a continued focus and comprehensive support network.”
The most recent figures from the charity Crisis estimate that in 2021, there were more than 227,000 people experiencing homelessness in the UK, either sleeping rough, sleeping in cars, vans or sheds, or moving between bed-and-breakfast accommodation.
It also reported a sharp increase in property evictions since the start of the pandemic, with 37 per cent more households receiving no-notice evictions from landlords, forcing councils across the country to step in and help families find temporary housing.
Since its establishment in 1991, The Big Issue has offered work to 105,000 vendors, who collectively have earned more than £144 million.
Prince William and Dave appear side by side on the cover of the special issue, which went on sale across the UK on Monday, and features the Duke’s own account of the experience, alongside the shocked reactions of the public.
The royal, who celebrates his 40th birthday on Tuesday, praised the organisation for its “undeniable impact”.
“Thankfully there are brilliant, compassionate people working tirelessly to support those that find themselves in that vulnerable position and to provide opportunity when it is most needed.”
Scroll the gallery below to see photos of Prince William and Kate at the Royal Ascot.