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Prince William Surprises London Grocery Shoppers as He Sells Magazines to Help the Homeless

Vendor Dave Martin revealed that he and the Prince of Wales continued a Christmas tradition

<p>Kensington Royal/X</p> A photo of Prince William selling copies of The Big Issue that Kensington Palace shared to X on Dec. 5.

Kensington Royal/X

A photo of Prince William selling copies of The Big Issue that Kensington Palace shared to X on Dec. 5.

Prince William shocked supermarket shoppers when he was spotted selling magazines.

On Tuesday, the Prince of Wales, 41, stepped out to sell The Big Issue at a Tesco grocery in Hammersmith, a borough west of London. Sales of The Big Issue benefit unhoused and vulnerable people experiencing poverty across the U.K., and Prince William first stepped out to sell the publication in June 2022.

“Great to be back with Dave, selling the latest edition of the @BigIssue once again! Find your nearest vendor this festive season,” Prince William’s team wrote on the X account he shares with his wife, Kate Middleton, linking out to The Big Issue vendor website. The post came with a new photo, which showed the prince in a red baseball cap and vest branded with the Big Issue’s logo smiling beside Dave Martin, with whom he sold magazines last summer.

Speaking about what it was like to reunite with the Prince of Wales, Martin told The Big Issue it was "very nice" to see him again.

“It was surreal, but he was so friendly. He was concerned about me and about the homeless people," he said. ”There were good vibes from everyone — it’s been a great day.”

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Martin added that he and Prince William have stayed in touch since they first met and exchanged Christmas cards both last year and today.

Homelessness is a key focus of Prince William’s philanthropic work, and he reflected on how his late mother, Princess Diana, introduced him to the importance of the “solvable issue” in an essay for The Big Issue, timed to his 40th birthday in June 2022. The heir to the throne secretly sold copies of the magazine on the streets of London that month, and he went unnoticed until a former Metropolitan Policeman posted about it on LinkedIn, where the news went viral.

In a special opinion piece published on the eve of his 40th birthday, for a June edition that he and Martin covered, William reflected on their experience selling magazines on the street together. Vendors receive half of the $3.70 cover price to help them get back on their feet. Together, the two sold 32 copies — with many members of the public, including recent refugees from Ukraine, stopping to chat with the prince.

“I wanted to experience the other side and see what it was like to be a Big Issue vendor. My time was truly eye-opening. I was lucky to join Dave on a warm, sunny day in June. People recognised a familiar face and were happy to give me the time of day,” Prince William wrote. “But that 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.”

Andy Parsons/ The Big Issue Prince William and Dave Martin sold copes of the The Big Issue in June 2022.
Andy Parsons/ The Big Issue Prince William and Dave Martin sold copes of the The Big Issue in June 2022.

Related: Prince William Secretly Sells Magazines on the Streets of London to Help the Homeless

“A hardworking, funny, joyful man, Dave is the kind of person we should all be actively encouraging and supporting. Instead, people often just ignore him. And while The Big Issue provides a mechanism by which Dave can provide for himself, earn a living and — in his words — regain some self-respect, it is reliant on us playing our part too,” Prince William continued. “Because he can only succeed if we recognise him, we see him and we support him.”

Elsewhere in the essay, Prince William reflected on the impact his first visit to a homeless shelter with Princess Diana had on him at age 11, remembering how his mother “in her own inimitable style was determined to shine a light on an overlooked, misunderstood problem.” Prince William later became the patron of The Passage in London and the U.K.-wide Centrepoint, which both work to end homelessness and support those in need.

Andy Parsons/ The Big Issue Prince William and Dave Martin on the cover of The Big Issue in June 2022.
Andy Parsons/ The Big Issue Prince William and Dave Martin on the cover of The Big Issue in June 2022.

In his most focused push to end homelessness yet, King Charles’ elder son launched the new Homewards initiative in June through the Royal Foundation. The new campaign will provide $3.8 million to six different locations across the U.K. as seed money for an ambitious plan to make homelessness "rare, brief and unrepeated” through the next five years.

In September, Prince William spent two days touring all six of the U.K. locations where the Homewards project is taking place. The homelessness initiative will be one of the projects that define his working life for many years to come, a legacy for both him and his mother.

<p>Liam McBurney - Pool/Getty</p> Prince William visits East Belfast Mission at the Skainos Centre in June 2023 as he prepared to launch the Homewards project.

Liam McBurney - Pool/Getty

Prince William visits East Belfast Mission at the Skainos Centre in June 2023 as he prepared to launch the Homewards project.

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While speaking at the Mosaic Clubhouse mental health charity, William said his inspiration for Homewards came from visiting homeless shelters as a child with his mom Diana.

"The visits we made, left a deep and lasting impression," Prince William said. "I met so many extraordinary people and listened to so many heart-breaking personal stories. Too many people have found themselves without a stable and permanent place to call home."

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