“I’d give everybody a pay rise and halve the electric bills”: Big Issue vendors on what they’d do if they were Queen for the day

Black and white image of woman holding Big Issue magazine

All photos courtesy of The Big Issue UK. Street art by Loretto.

By The Big Issue UK

  • Vendor stories
Originally published:
The Big Issue street paper, UK

What if the Queen had the vision of a Big Issue vendor? The street paper asked its team, who sell the magazine across the country, what they’d do if they were Queen for a day as the UK’s reigning monarch celebrates her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne. The insights are intriguing.

Lawrence (M&S, Chiswick, London)

Black and white image of man with animated crown

I’d put in a programme to provide housing for everybody, everybody should have the right to have a key to a front door of their own. And I’d pay myself a lot of money. Bless her. You’ve got to respect her for her longevity and standing for her principles, I have a lot of respect for the Queen. Not necessarily for the royal family, but for the Queen. I’ll raise a glass of elderflower for the Jubilee.

Lee Welham (Round Church, Cambridge)

Black and white image of man with red crown

I suppose I’d get rid of this Tory government. I’d start fresh and get some youngsters in charge. Start a whole new revolution! It’d have to be something political because right now we’re in such a mess. My mum was always a bit of a royalist, but for me personally I just say good luck to them. They’re just people to me. To be honest, I’ll probably have a barbecue with some friends and family because we’ve got all the extra days off, so I’ll probably make it a bit of an event.

Ian Duff (Union Street, Bath)

Black and white image of man with crown

Where do you start with that? What would I do? I’d decree it illegal to be homeless. That’s a good one. I think she’s great. The monarchy stabilises our country and I think they’re a good figurehead. If we only had the government to look at, it wouldn’t be so great, would it? I’ll be celebrating the Jubilee – I’ve been invited to my neighbour’s place for a little party in the afternoon.

Nick Cuthbert (M&S, Lemon Quay, Truro)

Black and white image of man with magazine

I think free food for the day would be a good idea right now. I won’t be celebrating the Jubi lee, but that’s not the best thing to say is it? I’ll be working and I’ll just have a big smile on my face while I do it. We’ve got a few things happening on Lemon Quay and that’s right on my pitch.

James Allerton (Wilko, Ilkeston)

Black and white image of man with red crown

If I was in charge for the day I’d probably just do what I normally do, my normal day-to-day life. I don’t want to look like I’m higher up than everybody else. I don’t feel like I’d feel any different, you know? I’d just want to feel like a normal person. I do follow her, I listen to her when she comes on TV and stuff like that. She makes sense at the end of the day. I’ll be celebrating the Jubilee but I’ll be trying to sell magazines as well. There’s going to be a party in Victoria Park in Ilkeston, so I’m going to speak to the council to see if I can stand outside the gate to sell the magazine.

Richard Cotterill (Morrisons, Totnes)

Black and white image of man with crown

Abdicate! I can only think of some – thing humorous to say because I honestly wouldn’t want to do it. Someone else can do it, thanks. It’s not that I’m not a fan, I’m just sort of ambivalent. I think it’s a bit antiquated. It seems like it was a normal and necessary thing in years gone by to have a head of state but now with so-called democracy I’m not quite sure what they’re there for. And there’s the negative stories coming out now with Prince Andrew. Some people are really heavily anti-monarchy. I’m not one of those but I guess I don’t see the point.

Alina Baboi (Lloyd’s Bank, Stratford-upon-Avon)

Black and white image of woman with crown

I probably won’t be celebrating the Jubilee. I probably won’t do anything. I do have respect for the Queen. She is a strong lady. I’m not really into the whole royal thing but I guess she’s OK.

John Williams (Waterstones, Swansea)

Black and white photo of man with magazine and crown

I’d sort out the fuel and the poverty. That’s come to mind because it’s a sorry state of affairs for people at the moment. I like the Queen because we need something genuine – especially now. She’s a great figurehead and there’s not so much politics with the Queen’s role as there is elsewhere now. The Jubilee is a big milestone so I’ll be celebrating.

George Anderson (BBC HQ and Oxford Circus, London)

Black and white photo of man with red crown

If I was sovereign for the day (or maybe longer), I would be aiming to invest and encourage things to do for regulation of the climate, not just in terms of climate change, but also climate manipulation. In the spirit of the legend of Camelot when it wasn’t allowed to rain before eight o’clock at night, I’d have sunshine every day. I think that would have a contribution to world peace. How’s that?

Will Herbert (Budgens, Upper Street, London)

Black and white photo of man with red crown

If I was Queen for the day, I would look after The Big Issue, and the homeless. She’s a top lady. When I met her I thought she was fantastic. A bit small, but fantastic

Dave Martin (Tesco, Hammersmith, London)

Man with crown

If I was in charge for the day I would have all the homeless people moved into permanent accommodation with the support they need for a better life. She has been a great ambassador for this country, and I think she is well-loved and is still dedicated to the people even now she is getting more frail

Bernie Buxton (Mutley Plain, Plymouth)

Man with jester hat and animated red crown

Give Scotland its freedom! In Scotland you have a choice of swearing to God or to the Queen and I’m Catholic, so I chose God. I’ll leave it at that…

Simon Gravell (Former Topshop, Norwich)

Man with jester had, Big Issue vest and card reader

I’d give everybody a pay rise and halve the electric bills! I think the Queen is probably one of the best assets in this country. She’s a stable figurehead. She might not be democratically elected. But would you rather have an idiot like Trump representing you? Or even Boris Johnson? We’ll see what Prince Charles brings to the table after her, but I think Prince William will do a fantastic job.

Paul Logan (Oxford Circus, London)

Man wearing Big Issue vest and hat

I would donate many of my castles to the homeless and I would also give out at least 30-40 per cent of my money to the poor. She’s a lovely lady.

Jules Daniels (Pilot, High Street, Leicester)

Woman holding Big Issue magazine

I’d want to get people working on climate change, picking up litter and recycling. I’d obviously want to sort out Ukraine and help all the refugees all over the world. I’m a people person so I like those sorts of things. It would be a busy day. I do like the Queen. It’s understandable that she can’t do as much now as she’s 96. Look back to history, she was there in World War 2 driving people around. She’s very hands-on, isn’t she? She’s got on with it and not complained. I’ll be celebrating – I still remember the street parties as a kid. Everyone got their chairs out and they got together in the gardens and it was really nice. I’ve not done it since then so I’d like to do it again.

Voices from the Commonwealth

It’s more than 20 years since Australia voted to keep the monarchy, and last week when they went to the polls to elect a new government (and pick up their democracy sausage) the idea of a republic seemed far from people’s minds. The new PM Anthony Albanese says a referendum is not a priority so, for now at least, the Queen remains head of state Down Under. Here’s what vendors of Big Issue Australia had to say.

RUTH: I would sell all my jewellery and crown and I’d build homes for the homeless and low-income earners. And one or more of my palaces could become a shelter for those in need.

CINDY C: If I was ‘top dog’ in the royal family I would open my home up to the under privileged to spend a few nights and experience living in a castle and some luxury – healthy meals, a nice comfy bed with warm sheets and maid and butler service. The works.

RICKY M: If I was monarch for a day, I would give the Australian Aboriginal people their land back.

VERNON: I would look after everyone! No one should be homeless. Too many people going hungry. I think everyone should have a bed to go to with a full belly. I would look after my subjects with compassion and humility.

Courtesy of The Big Issue UK bigissue.com @BigIssue

You may also be interested in...

Man holding magazine in subway station

    Big Issue Taiwan vendor Yu-fu Hsieh: “I’ll continue supporting the street paper, and I hope that we will spend another decade together”

    Read more
    Man in red cap and vest holds up magazine

      “The street paper saved my life” – what street papers are in the words of those who sell them

      Read more
      person receiving vaccine

        “Nobody should go without the shot”: Dispatches from vaccinated street paper vendors

        Read more