Royals Prince William Praises Mom Princess Diana's 'Inimitable Style' in New Essay to Shine Light on Homelessness The Duke of Cambridge, who turns 40 on June 21, wrote a piece for the U.K.'s Big Issue magazine By Simon Perry Published on June 20, 2022 10:02 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Prince William with Dave Martin Big Issue seller. Photo: Andy Parsons/ The Big Issue Prince William is reflecting on the personal impact of his mother Princess Diana's work in advance of his 40th birthday on June 21. The Duke of Cambridge, who spent time on the streets of Victoria, London last week selling copies of The Big Issue, which supports homeless people, opens up in the magazine's pages in a new essay released on Monday. "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," he writes. "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." Diana, who died almost 25 years ago, brought William and his brother Prince Harry to homelessness shelters like The Passage, and William followed her as a key supporter of both Centrepoint and The Passage in recent years. Andy Parsons/ The Big Issue "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." For more on Prince William, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day. He adds in the essay that he's set on introducing his children Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 7, and 4-year-old Prince Louis to the cause when they're ready. "In the years ahead, I hope to bring George, Charlotte and Louis to see the fantastic organizations doing inspiring work to support those most in need — just as my mother did for me," William says. "As she 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." Andy Parsons/ The Big Issue Last week, with seller Dave Martin, William experienced first-hand what it is like to sell The Big Issue on the streets. Vendors receive half of the $3.70 cover price to help them get back on their feet. Together they sold 32 copies — with many members of the public, including recent refugees from Ukraine, stopping to chat with the prince. 'You've Grown:' Homeless Center Volunteer Greets Prince William 23 Years After He First Visited with Diana Amid jokes about his age — "I'd like to be 21 again, Dave. The big four-zero. Getting on a bit now" — William signaled that like his campaigning on the environment, he is optimistic things can be better. "Although we can't fix all of that at once, I refuse to believe that homelessness is an irrevocable fact of life," he says. "It is an issue that can be solved, but that requires a continued focus and comprehensive support network." Andy Parsons/ The Big Issue For his part, Dave Martin told William what The Big Issue has given him: "It got me off the street. Gave me respect. I was begging at the time. Another vendor said I could be doing something a lot better and took me along to The Big Issue office." Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said in a statement, "I met with Prince William and told him how I myself had been homeless and got out of grief by being imprisoned and then went on to start The Big Issue. We need to do everything we can to get the millions of people in the U.K. out of poverty for good. We need more emphasis on prevention and cure, not just all the support and effort going into emergency relief. Prince William during his interview with The Big Issue. Andy Parsons/ The Big Issue "The scale of interest in William selling The Big Issue has been enormous. And it puts our vendors and their sterling work in the public eye again. Anyone can sell The Big Issue, even a Prince!" Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more! William and Martin also spent time talking at The Passage (where Mr. Martin had spent some time as a client), and Mick Clarke, CEO of The Passage, said, "The Duke has visited The Passage on many occasions over the years to meet our clients and raise awareness and support for people affected by homelessness. As [he] mentions in the interview, the 'Everyone In' program showed that when society works together, we can truly make progress toward ending street homelessness — which simply should not exist in 21st-century Britain." Andy Parsons/ The Big Issue William added, "Ever since I came here [to The Passage] with my mother, homelessness has stuck with me as an issue I want to fight for. I've done everything I can to raise the profile of the homeless, and I want to do a lot more."