How Princess Diana Inspired Prince William's 40th Birthday Initiative

The Duke of Cambridge turns 40 on June 21.

Prince William, who turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, was inspired by his mother, Princess Diana, for his birthday initiative.

In lead-up to his big day, the royal sold The Big Issue magazines, a publication put out by marginalized people who are working to overcome homelessness. 

William not only appears in this week’s issue of the magazine, but he also took to the streets with vendor Dave Martin to sell 32 copies of the publication.

He then paid a visit to The Passage, a charity that provides services to prevent and end homelessness, and a place that is important to William. It was his visit to The Passage with his mother and his brother, Prince Harry, almost 30 years ago that sparked his passion for helping those who are unhoused.

Big Issue Magazine

"I was 11 when I first visited a homeless shelter with my mother, who in her own inimitable style was determined to shine a light on an overlooked, misunderstood problem," the father of three wrote in a personal essay featured in magazine. “In the 30-odd years since, I’ve seen countless projects in this space grow from strength to strength, including charities of which I have had the honor of being Patron. 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 recognizable of these organizations, has undeniably had an impact.” 

William says that after spending time speaking with vendors who sell The Big Issue, he wanted to offer up his time.

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

Big Issue Magazine

The royal notes that he wants to work to help remove the stigma that comes with homelessness and commends The Big Issue for being a place to start. 

“When I speak to you or anyone who’s been living on the streets, you start to see the human and the difficulties you’ve been through,” Williams says. “There’s still some taboo about homelessness. I think the mental health side of things frightens people. We have to tackle all this to help humanize those who are living with homelessness. Many people would not be able to fare as well as you have to get through. “ 

Big Issue Magazine

William -- who is a patron of The Passage and Centrepoint -- further praises Dave and The Big Issue for creating a place and platform for people to earn respect and gain the self-respect they need. 

“It’s about respect. People who are homeless can’t rebuild their life without a number of things,” William says. “And one of those things is respect and self-respect. And that’s what The Big Issue gives you.”