Prince William has revealed his lifelong ambition to end homelessness in the UK and said he would build council housing on his private estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, which he inherited from his father the King.
William, 40, spoke up in his first interview since becoming Prince of Wales and used it to explain he’s determined to ‘make a difference… who doesn’t prepare the homeless for another autumn”.
The 130,000 acre Duchy of Cornwall stretches from Cornwall to Kent and includes estates in Newquay and Dorchester which include a mix of private and affordable housing.
When asked in his Sunday time interview if there are any plans for affordable homes on Duchy land, William said: ‘Absolutely. Social housing. You’ll see it when it’s ready. I’m no political expert, but I push where I can.
Described by the newspaper as a ‘curve ball’ that helpers hadn’t expected, William said he would ‘start small’ with housing and if the scheme worked well he would look to increase the amount available.
Prince William, 40, spoke up in his first interview since becoming Prince of Wales and used it to explain he is determined to “make a difference”.
Poundbury was developed on land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall, a royal estate run under the stewardship of the Prince of Wales. It includes a mix of private and affordable accommodation (file image)
William said during the school run in London he often asked Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte why they thought people were sleeping rough (file image)
William said: “It’s all very well to make grand gestures, but it’s no use if… there’s no future.”
Poundbury, a Dorset estate that is part of the Royal’s more than £1billion property portfolio, comprises 35% affordable housing, as well as private homes.
As part of national planning policy, major developments including housing should be required to provide 10% affordable housing.
The prince expressed frustration with the government, councils and charities simply ‘dealing’ with the homeless crisis rather than ‘preventing’ it.
Now he is teasing what he calls a “really big project” coming from the Royal Foundation, which he runs with the Princess of Wales.
He said he hoped the project, which is being kept secret until the end of the month, will have a “tangible impact” on improving living conditions.
William was 11 when his mother, the late Princess Diana, took him and Prince Harry to a homeless shelter and is now a patron of Passage, the charity that ran him.
He followed in his mother’s footsteps to become a patron of another charity, Centrepoint, in 2005, and recently spoke at a 33-apartment affordable housing development for young people funded by the group.
Diana, Princess of Wales during a visit to homeless charity The Passage with her sons, (then) Prince Harry (2nd left) and Prince William (2nd right) in the early 1990s
Research by the charity revealed last year that the number of 16 to 24 year olds who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless was 122,000.
This figure, obtained through freedom of information requests to all councils, has increased since Centrepoint’s first request five years ago when it was 110,000, and is expected to rise further this year.
As a senior royal and with the eyes of the world constantly on him, the prince was asked what he personally does to help rough sleepers.
“I don’t tend to give money. I tend to buy them a drink, food, something like that. I find that when I’m walking around or passing by and I see d ‘other people do it [give money], people don’t even look at them. How many people stop and talk to someone who is homeless? Very few of us.
“In my work, I meet these people, I hear the stories, I feel them, I see them. That to me – and I’ve heard about them themselves – means a lot.
“They have become invisible. It’s really important for society to recognize that there’s someone out there and they’re going through a tough time. It shouldn’t happen but it’s just there. You cannot ignore it.
William is a patron of the Centrepoint charity and recently spoke at a 33 youth apartment affordable housing development funded by the group
The prince also revealed that he plans to take his children to a homeless shelter and that he is trying to ensure that his children are exposed to the realities faced by tens of thousands of people across the country. .
He said during the school run in London he often quizzed Princes George, Louis and Princess Charlotte about what they were seeing and why they thought people were sleeping rough.
‘They [will] growing up knowing that actually, you know what, some of us are very lucky, some of us need a little helping hand, some of us need to do a little more where we can to help others improve their lives.