TV

How The Big Issue became a royal matchmaker for William and Kate in The Crown

The new series of The Crown shows The Big Issue bringing together the future King and Queen

The final series of The Crown

The Crown Season 6. Image: Justin Downing/Netflix

In episode seven of the final series of The Crown, a flashback scene shows the teenage Prince William selling The Big Issue on the streets of London with Princess Diana. A young Kate Middleton, out shopping with her mother, buys a copy from him and their eyes meet. There’s a spark between them. An attraction. Though William, an awkward adolescent at the time, looks a little flustered. The Big Issue bringing together the future king and queen. What a story! 

The next time they meet, William and Kate are at university in St Andrews. Eventually, the spark that first ignited between them during a the sale of The Big Issue, overseen by both of their mothers, bursts into a flame. The rest is history.

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The Royal Family, of course, has a long relationship with The Big Issue. Just a few weeks ago, King Charles III was photographed by Rankin for an exclusive portrait for our cover to mark his 75th birthday. He also wrote about his hopes for the people of this country and the future of the planet.  

King Charles then bought the magazine from vendor Kelvin Gregory at the launch of his Coronation Food Project, which will redistribute surplus food to those who need it most.  

Previously, in 1997, the then Prince Charles had visited The Big Issue to open our new offices in South London. While there, he met a former school pal who was selling the magazine at the time. 

Prince William himself also sold The Big Issue in Central London alongside vendor Dave Martin in 2022. He returned to spend some of his actual 40th birthday with Dave. This was before launching Homeward, a five-year plan aiming to end homelessness, last June. A decade earlier, in 2012, Prince William guest edited The Big Issue. And only last week, he stunned shoppers by reuniting with Dave to sell more magazines. 

What sparked the connection? Well, as far back as 1993, Prince William visited The Passage homeless project with his mother and Prince Harry. And last year, our vendor Frankie McGucken told us how Princess Diana had been a regular customer of his in the years before her death. So her concern and compassion for people experiencing homelessness was longstanding, and passed on to her children. 

The Big Issue magazine created for The Crown's final series
The Big Issue magazine created for The Crown’s final series. Image: Netflix

So is bringing together a future king and queen the most dramatic coming together of The Big Issue and the Royal Family ever? Is our part in the romance between William and Kate our biggest royal achievement?

Well, perhaps it would be. Except it didn’t happen.  

So why did the creators of the Netflix drama decide to use The Big Issue in one of its big final season storylines? What were they trying to express about the Prince and Princess of Wales? What exactly do we symbolise?

“The Big Issue was chosen because we were keen to show more of the charitable side of Princess Diana’s character – specifically in regard to her work with the homeless – and were aware that it was work she wanted her sons to be exposed to and get involved in,” explains Oona O’Beirn, producer of The Crown. “As such an iconic brand name in the UK and around the world, The Big Issue felt like the best and natural choice for these scenes.” 

Like so many fictionalised storylines in The Crown, it had its origin in the truth. And it was very much inspired by real events. 

“This part of the story was inspired by several things,” continues O’Beirn. “Including Princess Diana bringing both of her sons to visit The Passage. We were looking for a forum in which Kate’s early interest in William could be brought to life on screen. Around the time of writing, the story about Prince William selling The Big Issue magazine ahead of his 40th birthday was published. This provided the inspiration for creating that moment.” 

The pre-credits flashback scene featuring The Big Issue is a prelude for when Kate reconnects with William at St Andrews.

“As a prince and future king, entering the dating pool must be incredibly hard,” says O’Beirn. “Trying to weed out those interested in him for his status rather than for who he really is.  

“In terms of character building, we were keen for Kate to see William as someone kind and compassionate. And, particularly given the majority of the episode takes place after his mother’s death, someone who was deeply influenced by his mother’s legacy. 

“We wanted to portray Kate as someone who would be drawn to a person with these qualities, rather than simply someone who is royal, rich and famous.  

“By helping his mother sell The Big Issue, the magazine came to represent Prince William’s charitable nature and groundedness.” 

The Crown returns for its final episodes on Netflix from 14 December.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue or give a gift subscription. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available from App Store or Google Play

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
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