Prince William slept rough on the streets of London to help homeless | Royal | News

Prince William will soon feature in a new two-part ITV documentary shining a light on homelessness in Britain, but it’s not the first time the heir to the throne has tried to help the homeless.

A little known fact about Prince William, 42, is that he spent a night sleeping rough on the streets of London in the winter of 2009 to experience being homeless.

The royal took to a sleeping bag next to some wheelie bins near Blackfriars bridge in an event organised by Centrepoint – a charity once supported by his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

Centrepoint’s chief executive, Seyi Obakin, slept next to the prince on a makeshift bed and said the “hairiest moment” came when they were almost run over by a road sweeper.

The pair were joined by William’s private secretary at the time, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton.

In a photograph released by Centrepoint in 2009, above, the prince – dressed in jeans, a hooded top and wearing a hat and trainers – can be seen standing next to Obakin with bedding around them.

A St James’s Palace spokesman said at the time that they got very little sleep and dozed for short periods.

“Prince William took away from the experience the importance of tackling all the issues that cause people to be homeless and stay homeless, from drug dependency to mental health problems,” the spokesman said.

The initiative came about when Obakin challenged the prince to experience being homeless for one night after William urged the charity to redouble its efforts to end youth homelessness.

Obakin wrote on the Centrepoint website in 2009: “For me, it was a scary experience. Out of my comfortable bed. Out there in the elements. Out there on an extremely cold night, with temperatures down to minus 4.

“And it was the same for Prince William. But he was determined to do it as [Centrepoint] patron in order to raise awareness of the problem and to be able to understand a little better what rough sleepers go through night after night.”

“We took as much precaution as possible – finding a relatively secluded spot in an alleyway, shielded partly by a collection of wheelie bins.

“But there was no shielding from the bitter cold, or the hard concrete floor, or the fear of being accosted by drug dealers, pimps or those out to give homeless people a ‘good kicking’,” Obakin wrote.

“One of the hairiest moments occurred when we were almost run over by a road sweeper which simply didn’t see our small group huddled together, which just goes to show how vulnerable rough sleepers are.

“I have never been happier to welcome the break of dawn.”

The revelation comes amid the announcement that Prince William is to feature in a two-part ITV documentary shining a light on homelessness in Britain.

Under the working title “Prince William: We Can End Homelessness”, two one hour specials will give an exclusive, behind the scenes look at the first year of the Homewards programme, an initiative aimed at ending homelessness.

Scheduled to air on ITV1 and ITVX this autumn, the two-part documentary series will follow Prince William as he launches Homewards across the country, as well as the journeys of those currently facing homelessness or who have lived experience of the issue.

Produced by legendary filmmaker Louis Theroux’s Mindhouse productions, the two-part documentary has been directed by BAFTA winner Leo Burley and executive produced by Arron Fellows.

Founded by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in June 2023, Homewards is a transformative, locally led programme, that aims to demonstrate that it’s possible to end homelessness, making it rare, brief and unrepeated.

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