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The day Big Issue vendor Karl Grierson sold the magazine to King Charles

Big Issue vendor Karl Grierson recalled the day he sold the magazine to King Charles III and the royal had to ask his aide for £1 to buy it

Karl Grierson Prince Charles 2000 John Stillwell PA

Big Issue vendor Karl Grierson sells the magazine to Prince Charles outside Peterborough Cathedral in 2000. Image: John Stillwell/PA Archive/PA Images

Few people get the chance to meet the royals but even fewer get the chance to say they sold the future King Charles III a Big Issue magazine.

But that was the case for vendor Karl Grierson 22 years ago.

As Charles ascends to the throne, veteran seller Grierson recalled the time he pushed through the crowds outside Peterborough Cathedral in 2000 to offer the then-Prince of Wales the chance to buy the magazine.

“I didn’t expect to sell the Big Issue to Prince Charles on the actual day, I was a young boy and it was a bet I had with a mate. I pushed through the crowd and cheekily asked if he wanted to buy a Big Issue,” said 46-year-old Grierson, who is still selling the magazine, now outside Poundland in Edinburgh.

“I didn’t get to speak to him that long but from the time I did he was just like a normal person. He was very jolly and he actually had to get one of his aides to buy the Big Issue off me. That’s how long ago it was, the Big Issue cost a pound. 

“Then he just walked off, it happened so quickly. He was just normal and down to earth.”

Grierson’s bravado earned him a spot on the local news and on the BBC and has now become a cherished anecdote.

Karl Grierson
Edinburgh Big Issue vendor Karl Grierson. Image: Supplied

The vendor believes the new king is ready for his reign – something he couldn’t claim on the day the pair met when he was caught without the cash to buy the magazine.

“I don’t think I’ll get that close to him now!” added Grierson.

“He’s been groomed for this for 70 years so he should be ready for it. Hopefully he’ll do just as good of a job as his mum did and go on to the same age she did.”

Grierson also paid tribute to Charles’s mother Queen Elizabeth following her death at the age of 96 on Thursday.

Grierson added: “I’m sad that she’s gone. Words can’t really describe it, everyone’s just sad. I almost wonder if she died of a broken heart with it being just over a year since she lost Prince Philip.”

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