Dermot O’Leary hit back at a This Morning guest who accused Prince William of ‘virtue signalling’ after he went undercover to sell copies of the Big Issue.
The future king was spotted with a red vest and cap selling the Big Issue in London, a street paper and social enterprise that gives people who are experiencing homelessness a helping hand.
Prince William is patron of Centrepoint, following in the footsteps of his mother Diana who also supported the homelessness charity.
However, a This Morning guest accused the prince’s gesture as ‘virtue signalling’.
‘This is a great story,’ Dermot began, explaining how Prince William was spotted by local people.
‘What a lovely thing to do,’ co-host Alison Hammond added.
While guest Tom Swarbrick admitted that he didn’t think he would have been able to recognise Prince William, Natalie Pike admitted: ‘I’m afraid to say I think this is a little bit of virtue signalling from Prince William.’
She continued: ‘I’m sorry, the royal family do a lot of charity work but there is always going to be comparisons with Princess Diana isn’t there, and I’ve just checked it out just now, and what Princess Diana did was go out undercover at night and put coats in bins for homeless people, and I just think that’s the way to do it, rather than going out on the street and being on the front page of The Sun.’
Dermot hit back, saying: ‘It’s not his fault he’s on the front page of The Sun! He doesn’t make that decision.
‘This whole thing was that he was shown the ropes by veteran vendor,’ Dermot continued, asking Natalie: ‘You just don’t buy that?’
She replied: ‘No, not really. I think he was only out there for five minutes, so you know, I think it is virtue signalling.’
Dermot probed: ‘Do you know that??’ prompting Natalie to respond: ‘That’s what I’ve read, maybe that’s not true.’
Dermot added: ‘Read it?!’ with Alison also jumping in to defend the prince, saying: ‘The thing is Natalie, he doesn’t have to do it. The fact that he’s done it, I think it’s really nice.
It’s brought awareness to The Big Issue, and I think I’m in that issue actually,’ she jokingly added at the end.
Prince William has raised awareness of homelessness in the past, including when he slept rough in 2009, aged 27.
Before Christmas in 2020, he made three surprise visits to homeless charity The Passage where he spoke to residents and helped serve meals.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the charity’s 40th anniversary, he said: ‘Over the many years that I have visited The Passage, first with my mother when I was just a small boy, I have developed a great affection for everyone who is here.
‘Every time I come here, I am touched by your warmth and friendliness, and the dignity and respect you show to every single person who comes through your door.’
This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV.