Elizabeth Debicki, Will Powell, Senan West, Dominic West in The Crown. season five. Image: Keith Bernstein / Netflix
In her life, Princess Diana was a powerful campaigner on issues around homelessness and a strong supporter of The Big Issue. She regularly bought the magazine from Chelsea vendor Frank McGucken. That relationship is set to be celebrated in the final series of Netflix hit The Crown.
In new photos from the set, actors Elizabeth Debicki and Rufus Kampa, who play Princess Diana and the young Prince William, have been spotted filming scenes in which they’re selling the magazine at Canary Wharf in London. The storyline echoes Prince William’s real-life experience last year, selling The Big Issue in London with vendor Dave Martin.
The storyline is expected to highlight Princess Diana’s commitment to raising awareness of homelessness and supporting charities and organisations that helped people experiencing homelessness. It’s an awareness and compassion she passed on to her children.
Diana was a patron of youth homelessness charity Centrepoint. Prince William has continued her legacy in a similar role as a patron of the charity since 2005. In 2009 he spent a night sleeping on the street in London to raise awareness about the charity and its mission.
The new storyline in The Crown appears to be a creative blend of two recent Big Issue stories. Late last year, our vendor Frank McGucken recalled how Princess Diana would buy the magazine from him in Kensington.
“Lady Diana used to come to me, privately, on her own, and buy the paper,” he said. “I used to see her on a regular basis in Beauchamp Place when she was on her way to the gym in Chelsea Harbour. She had it all. But she had respect for homeless people. She used to give me a beautiful smile.”
And in June 2022, just after the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and as part of his own 40th birthday celebrations, Prince William joined our vendor Dave Martin to sell The Big Issue in central London.
They surprised Dave’s regular customers on Rochester Row in Victoria, posed for photographs, and sold 32 magazines before visiting The Passage, a nearby homeless shelter, to talk at length about why The Big Issue is a magazine and an organisation close to the Prince’s heart.
In their conversation, and in an exclusive article written for The Big Issue by the then Duke of Cambridge, now Prince of Wales, William talked of how his passion for wanting to help people experiencing homelessness was sparked by visiting to The Passage with his mother.
“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.”
He went on to talk about his fears that the cost of living crisis would lead to higher levels of homelessness. Recent figures show this is already happening.
“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,” Prince William wrote.
“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.
“I wanted to experience the other side and see what it was like to be a Big Issue vendor. My time was truly eye opening.”
He ended with a pledge to pay forward the care and compassion instilled in him by his mother.
“In the years ahead, I hope to bring George, Charlotte and Louis to see the fantastic organisations doing inspiring work to support those most in need – just as my mother did for me,” he wrote.
“As she instinctively knew, and as I continue to try and highlight, the first step to fixing a problem is for everyone to see it for what it truly is.”
The Crown is one of the most popular series in Netflix history. Millions of viewers around the world have enjoyed five series of royal history through the show. The upcoming sixth and final series will focus on the death of Princess Diana and the young princes growing up. It will include the moment Prince William first encounters Kate Middleton.
But the series has always used its storylines to paint a broader picture of the passions of members of the Royal Family.
These new images show one way in which The Crown will show Princess Diana’s ongoing legacy will be to highlight her long involvement in issues around homelessness, and how this was passed down to, and continued by Prince William.
Urgent action is needed to prevent even more people being pushed into homelessness. A secure home is the first step in addressing the cruel cycle of poverty to ensure people can fulfil their potential. Join us to keep people in their homes.