King Charles appears on Big Issue front cover to launch food poverty campaign on 75th birthday

King Charles has appeared on the front cover of The Big Issue to mark the launch of a major new campaign aiming to end food poverty in Britain.

Capturing the monarch ahead of his 75th birthday, renowned photographer Rankin’s black-and-white portrait poignantly reflects the significance of the milestone, as well as the importance of the King’s Coronation Food Project.

“Food need is as real and urgent a problem as food waste – and if a way could be found to bridge the gap between them, then it would address two problems in one,” Charles told The Big Issue.

“It is my great hope that this Coronation Food Project will find practical ways to do just that – rescuing more surplus food, and distributing it to those who need it most.”

King Charles turns 75 on November 14 (PA)
King Charles turns 75 on November 14 (PA)

The project, which has support on all sides of the political divide, was first announced in July and is being coordinated by the monarch’s charitable organisation, The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF), and aims to help tackle food poverty by saving surplus food, creating coronation food hubs as a network of distribution centres.

The PWCF said on its website: “We won’t beat food poverty through waste reduction alone. But saving food and circulating it through charities and community groups to people in need is a vital place to start. It also has significant social and environmental benefits.”

Rankin, who also photographed the late Queen for her Golden Jubilee, said: “It was an absolute honour to shoot this specifically for The Big Issue and specifically around the Coronation Food Project, which I’m a big supporter of, and is something we don’t talk about enough.

“I’ve always thought that he’s a very resilient human being. I think that’s what I got from him, that kind of steely determination.”

An official portrait of the late Queen - princess as she was - taken three days before her 21th birthday in 1947 (AFP via Getty Images)
An official portrait of the late Queen - princess as she was - taken three days before her 21th birthday in 1947 (AFP via Getty Images)

Paul McNamee, editor of The Big Issue, said: “King Charles’ support for The Big Issue goes back decades. He opened one of our London offices in the 90s, when he met an old school friend, who was selling the magazine.

“The King’s attachment to The Big Issue has remained strong since, as has that of the entire royal family and we’re delighted he gave us his time, and his words.

“Equally, we understand the pressures millions of Britons face over food costs and supplies, and we back the Coronation Food Project.

“The cover comes at a key moment, when vendors face a tough winter. This will hopefully boost their sales, which is at the heart of why we exist.”

Lord John Bird, founder of the magazine, said: “It’s grand that King Charles has his portrait on the cover.”

The Queen in a portrait taken for her 50th birthday in 1976 (AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen in a portrait taken for her 50th birthday in 1976 (AFP via Getty Images)

The Coronation Food Project was inspired by the London-based Felix Project, which is Europe’s biggest distributor of waste food to those in need. The project uses the Felix Project as a template and partner.

The programme will also work with farmers, supermarkets and relevant organisations, as well as FareShare, a charity that helps cut food waste outside the capital.

The Independent helped fund the Felix Project as part of its £10m award-winning Help the Hungry campaign during the Covid pandemic. The organisation sources surplus food from the industry and redistributes it.

The Coronation Food Project has already distributed more than 800 fridges and freezers to food banks and community organisations across the UK.

Research last year by the Food Foundation on the cost-of-living crisis suggested more than two million adults in the UK had skipped meals for a whole day in one month because they could not afford to eat.

This cover follows the state opening of parliament on Tuesday (7 November), during which Charles addressed parliament with legislative plans for the coming year, as detailed by the prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

Points announced in the speech included a series of measures promising tougher sentences for killers and rapists, as well as governmental actions to assist with the cost-of-living crisis.

“My government will continue to take action to bring down inflation, to ease the cost of living for families and help businesses fund new jobs and investments,” Charles noted.

However, the home secretary Suella Braverman’s widely condemned plan to restrict charities from giving out tents to homeless people was not included in the speech.

Long-term plans for ending rough sleeping or improving housing have yet to be revealed.

Donations to the Coronation Food Project, which will benefit those in need in all four nations of the UK, may be made at: