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'The King slipped me a tenner': King Charles buys copy of Big Issue with his portrait on the cover

While celebrating his 75th birthday, King Charles III bought a Big Issue from vendor Kelvin Gregory

The King bought a copy of the Big Issue from vendor Kelvin Gregory along with Lord John Bird the founder of the Big Issue. Credit Ian Vogler

King Charles III bought a copy of the Big Issue magazine that has his face on the cover.

This week’s historic edition of the magazine features a piece penned by the King and an exclusive portrait taken by renowned photographer Rankin.

The King was attending the launch of his Coronation Food Project at a FareShare distribution centre on the outskirts of Didcot when he met vendor Kelvin Gregory, 61, who usually sells outside Somerset House.

“That was nuts!” Kelvin said after meeting and shaking hands with both the King and Queen Camilla.

“He asked about my well-being, if I had accommodation, how I find selling the magazine, and how the Big Issue has helped me.

“I said I enjoy doing what I’m doing because the Big Issue helped me through bad times. Selling taught me interpersonal skills and gave me confidence back. It really helps so people should keep supporting.”

Change a Big Issue vendor’s life this Christmas by purchasing a Winter Support Kit. You’ll receive four copies of the magazine and create a brighter future for our vendors through Christmas and beyond.

Kelvin added about his royal encounter: “The experience was surreal. He came across as very understanding, and very engaging.

“It was a unique experience. Definitely one off the bucket list.”

The monarch knows that Big Issue vendors are working, not begging, and so paid Kelvin for his copy.

“He subtly palmed a note into my hand. He slipped me a tenner,” Kelvin said. “But I’m keeping it as a souvenir. I’ll have to frame that.”

The King pictured handing Kelvin a £10 note to buy a copy of The Big Issue with his face on the cover. Credit Ian Vogler

The Coronation Food Project aims to “supercharge” efforts to redirect surplus food to organisations that can get it to people who are experiencing food insecurity.

The King and Queen met staff and volunteers at FareShare as they sorted and packed food. Also in attendance were the leaders of the UK’s major supermarkets who pledged to further reduce their levels of food waste.

Kelvin was accompanied by Big Issue founder Lord Bird, who reminded King Charles of his long-time association with the magazine that goes back to the early 1990s when the then Prince of Wales opened offices in London.

“The Coronation Food Project shows a very organised attempt by HM to bring together lots of food programmes. It’s largely about coordination and better distribution.

“I was very pleased to be there to see the King and dozens of people trying to be more efficient around food delivery and food waste.

“I raised the question with the King that we need to spend more of our time and efforts on prevention and cure and he agreed with me.

“The parting words he said to me were: ‘Yes, we really need to do more prevention.’

“To me, these are words that can build a better social programme for eradicating poverty. We need to deal with the emergency but we need to deal with preventing the emergency happening in the first place.”

Learn more about the Coronation Food Project here. And follow the example of our King by buying The Big Issue, available now from vendors across the country!

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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