Prince William at 40: the importance of tackling homelessness

Weeks after being spotted selling copies of The Big Issue on the streets of London, The Duke of Cambridge has written an exclusive piece in the magazine to mark his 40th birthday.

The Duke of Cambridge wrote about why ending homelessness is a cause close to his heart.

The Duke of Cambridge wrote exclusively for The Big Issue. (Kensington Palace)

The Royal open his article by looking back on memories he shared with his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who took him to a homeless shelter at the age of 11. He says his mother ‘was determined to shine a light on an overlooked, misunderstood problem’ by doing it in ‘her own inimitable style’.

Prince William highlights in the 30 years since The Big Issue started, he has seen countless projects in this space grow from strength to strength’, including the charities the Prince is actively involved in.

“New initiatives have been launched up and down the country – some have worked, some have not. But The Big Issue, perhaps now the most immediately recognisable of these organisations, has undeniably had an impact. Its social business model has provided a means of making a living to 105,000 vendors who have earned over £144 million.”

Prince William and Dave talking to people whilst selling copies of The Big Issue. (The Big Issue)

William highlights how homeless is ‘still seen by many as some entrenched phenomenon over which we have little power. And there are worrying signs that things might soon get worse as people feel the effects of higher prices and find it harder to make ends meet.’

He continues to say: “And although we can’t fix all of that at once, I refuse to believe that homelessness is an irrevocable fact of life. It is an issue that can be solved, but that requires a continued focus and comprehensive support network.”

In the article, the future King showcases how there are ‘brilliant, compassionate people working tirelessly to support those that find themselves in that vulnerable position and to provide opportunity when it is most needed’ and how people ‘fulfil small acts of kindness as they purchase a street magazine or make a donation to someone on the street before proceeding on with their day.’

The Duke of Cambridge took the opportunity to take photos with members of the public. (The Big Issue)

Speaking about his experiences selling copies of The Big Issue, William says it was ‘truly eye opening’ and felt lucky to join Big Issue vendor, Dave, ‘on a warm, sunny day in June’.

Whilst recognising he is a familiar face and people were happy to speak to him, William notes this isn’t usual behaviour as it ‘isn’t the case for the vast majority of Big Issue vendors, who sell year-round – including through the bleak winter months – and are barely given a second glance by passers-by.’

The Duke of Cambridge highlighted the importance of his role within the Royal Family, saying he counts himself ‘extremely lucky to have a role that allows me to meet people from all walks of life, and to understand their full story – whatever it may be. It’s a privilege that many of us, busy with our days, don’t always afford.’

The Duke of Cambridge has spoken about the importance of tackling homelessness. (The Big Issue)

He notes he may ‘seem like one of the most unlikely advocates for this cause’ but believes in using his royal platform ‘to help tell those stories and to bring attention and action to those who are struggling.’

‘So, for my part, I commit to continue doing what I can to shine a spotlight on this solvable issue not just today, but in the months and years to come.’

There were some double-takes as Londoners struggled to believe their eyes as they saw William on the streets selling The Big Issue. (The Big Issue)

The father-of-three also spoke about the importance of bringing George, Charlotte and Louis ‘to see the fantastic organisations doing inspiring work to support those most in need’.

Paying tribute to Diana at the start of his article, the Duke closes it in a similar way in a touching tribute: “As she [Diana] instinctively knew, and as I continue to try and highlight, the first step to fixing a problem is for everyone to see it for what it truly is.”

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