Housing

Prince William plans to teach his children about homelessness, as Princess Diana did for him

Writing in The Big Issue in the week of his 40th birthday, the Duke of Cambridge looks back at his visit to a homeless charity almost 30 years ago

Princess Diana, William and Harry at The Passage in 1993

Princess Diana visited The Passage with her young sons William and Harry in 1993 Photo: Courtesy of The Passage

Prince William has revealed he plans to teach his children about homelessness, in the same way his mother Princess Diana taught him — by taking them to see the work done by organisations doing good in the world.

Writing exclusively in The Big issue, the prince also stressed that homelessness is not “some entrenched phenomenon over which we have little power” and he fears it will get worse.

“Homelessness is not an irrevocable fact of life. It is an issue that can be solved,” he writes in this week’s edition of the magazine, finally revealing the story behind pictures of the prince which went viral around the world recently after he spent an hour selling magazines in central London alongside veteran vendor Dave Martin.

In a rare and candid first-person article, William shares how his mother, Princess Diana, inspired his work with people experiencing homelessness after she took him to visit a shelter at just 11 years old.

“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 said.

Diana was a patron of youth homelessness charity Centrepoint and Prince William is continuing her legacy in a similar role as a patron of the charity. In 2009 he spent a night sleeping on the street in London to raise awareness about the charity and its mission.

And it seems likely that his eldest son, Prince George, who turns nine next month, might be visiting a homeless shelter soon as he is just two years younger than his father when he was first exposed to the issue.

Prince WIlliam and Big Issue vendor Dave Martin chat to customers in central London
Prince WiIliam and Big Issue vendor Dave Martin chat to customers in central London. Photo: Andy Parsons

The Big Issue is not a charity but offers people on the margins of society a way to make money where they might otherwise struggle, buying magazines for £1.50 and selling them for £3. The Big Issue Foundation is the registered charity which supports vendors to go beyond selling the magazine.

Donning the iconic red hat and uniform and armed with a card machine in case punters didn’t have cash, William had a “truly eye opening” experience when he tried his hand as a vendor in early June.

But the prince said he was saddened to see some passers-by barely give a second glance to Dave —  a “hardworking, funny, joyful man” — ignoring him as they went on their way.

The Duke of Cambridge encouraged the public to give a “small act of kindness” by supporting Dave and people like him by buying a Big Issue magazine.

He remembers how his mother instinctively knew that “the first step to fixing a problem is for everyone to see it for what it truly is.”

​​”While I may seem like one of the most unlikely advocates for this cause, I have always believed in using my platform to help tell those stories and to bring attention and action to those who are struggling. I plan to do that now I’m turning forty, even more than I have in the past,” he wrote.

Read more about what happened when Prince William sold The Big Issue:

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.
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