News

Big Issue founder Lord Bird pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth on news of her death

Lord Bird shared his condolences with the royal family and his memories of Queen Elizabeth, Britain's longest serving monarch.

Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the Senedd in Cardiff in 2021. Image: Jacob King/PA Wire/PA Images

The Big Issue founder Lord John Bird has paid tribute to Her Majesty the Queen as news broke her death this evening. 

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.

“The King and the Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

This evening, Lord Bird said, “My thoughts and prayers are with the Queen and her family. Her Majesty The Queen, and the Royal Family, have long been supporters of The Big Issue, amongst many other good causes. 

“After I started The Big Issue, I was invited to Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty to receive an MBE. She asked me why she was awarding the MBE to me, and I said for services to homeless people, I also said her children were readers of The Big Issue and she said you better send me a copy (which I did) and she sent me a thank you note.”

John said he wasn’t sure if she read it. However, an impression was made. 

“I was invited back twice more to the Palace because of my work with the homeless, where her Royal Highness was always welcoming and took time to speak to me about the issues. Her Majesty and The Royal Family have always used their platform to highlight the serious issues facing the country, which has been very important for organisations such as The Big Issue,” he added.

the queen
The Queen was always a supporter of the Big Issue and similar charitable causes. Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The Queen, the longest serving monarch in British history, has also played a personal part in Lord Bird’s life.

“When I was living in the slums of London aged 3, I watched the Queen with his Royal Highness, her father George the 6th at the time on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. A few years later, I watched her when she became Queen as she drove round visiting the people and the whole of my infant school came out to greet her. She was always with us.”

Her son, now King Charles has also long been a supporter of The Big Issue. He opened London Big Issue offices. During one opening, some 20 years ago, he met one of his old school friends who was then selling The Big Issue. 

Recently, Prince William also took the time to come and sell The Big Issue and struck up a close rapport with vendor, Dave Martin, in London. He headed back out, unannounced and unheralded, to greet Dave and bring him some birthday cake, on his birthday.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
June 2024 payment dates for DWP benefits – plus changes to universal credit
money in wallet/ dwp benefits
Benefits

June 2024 payment dates for DWP benefits – plus changes to universal credit

Gen Z want to buy houses, smoke weed and do crimes, report finds. What does this mean for UK's future?
Generation Z

Gen Z want to buy houses, smoke weed and do crimes, report finds. What does this mean for UK's future?

Post-Brexit border checks to cost £4.7bn. Here's how that money could be better spent
The white cliffs of Dover, where Brexit border controls will come into force
Brexit

Post-Brexit border checks to cost £4.7bn. Here's how that money could be better spent

Archbishop of Canterbury joins growing calls for end to 'cruel' and 'immoral' two-child benefit cap
archbishop of canterbury
Two-child benefit cap

Archbishop of Canterbury joins growing calls for end to 'cruel' and 'immoral' two-child benefit cap

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know