News

How Prince William ended up buying lunch for Big Issue vendor Karl Burns: 'He was a lovely bloke'

Karl Burns went from selling the magazine on his Bournemouth pitch to meeting the Prince William, Dragons' Den's Steven Bartlett and Paul Gascoigne

Big Issue Vendor Karl Burns outside Pret a Manger in Bournemouth where he met Prince William ©Exposure Photo Agency

Big Issue vendor Karl Burns went from selling the magazine on his Bournemouth pitch to getting the VIP treatment with Prince William, Dragons’ Den’s star Steven Bartlett and Paul Gascoigne.

Burns, 55, was working on his pitch outside Natwest in Bournemouth Square on 7 September when he noticed the future king was visiting nearby Pret a Manger as part of his campaign to end homelessness.

The plucky vendor asked if he could donate a magazine to the Prince of Wales, who tried his hand at selling the magazine last year before launching his £3m Homewards initiative in June.

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

And he got more than he bargained for when Prince William’s aides ushered him into the sandwich shop and the royal bought him lunch.

“I was sat on my pitch when I was informed the prince was going to be just across the road in a coffee shop,” said Burns. “So I went over there and I already knew someone who was already there and that was Paul Gascoigne – I know him anyway.

“I turned around to the royal protection officer and said, ‘On behalf of The Big Issue, I’d like to donate you The Big Issue and I thank you for what you’re doing here today.’

“The prince came out and I said, ‘Thank you very much for what you’re doing, and helping the homeless and those of us who are less fortunate than yourself.’

“He paid for my lunch. He told them to make sure that I’ve got a lunch on him. He also got his secretary to give me a tenner to pay for the issue. He was a lovely bloke.”

Prince William was in the Bournemouth shop to see how Pret a Manger was joining him in his bid to end homelessness.

The sandwich chain has committed to help at least 500 people at risk or experiencing homelessness into jobs through its Rising Stars programme over the next five years.

The prince made sandwiches and spoke to staff in Bournemouth, which is one of six flagship locations making up his Homewards programme.

He was joined by new Homeward advocate Bartlett and met Gascoigne, who lives locally, during the visit too.

After leaving the sandwich shop, William met with representatives from local and national businesses to develop plans to end homelessness in the area.

He finished the trip at Premier League side AFC Bournemouth where he heard how the club is supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable adults to live independently.

The royal’s efforts to end homelessness certainly got the approval of Big Issue vendor Burns.

“I think it’s an absolutely brilliant idea,” said Burns, who added he would be “lost” without The Big Issue.

“When my children saw me on the telly the other night with a future king and a world-class football player, my boy’s got ADHD and he hasn’t stopped skipping since he saw me on the telly. It’s brilliant.”

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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
Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices
energy bills
Energy bills

Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election
Trussell Trust food banks
General election 2024

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
Department for Work and Pensions

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

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