Local charities say the official figures may not fully capture the extent of the problem, because a number of people, known as the “hidden homeless,” beg on the streets by day and spend their nights in temporary accommodations for extended periods.
On Friday afternoon, there was no sign of begging around the walls of Windsor Castle, the royal residence where the queen is known to spend most of her weekends. No more than three homeless people slept under the arches of food chains and gift shops opposite the walls guarding the castle’s iconic round tower.
Stacey Crawford, 42, who said she had been homeless for just over a year, sat curled up in a red sleeping bag in front of a McDonald’s while sipping coffee that a local resident had just bought her.
“I think the comments are rude and heartless,” Ms. Crawford said, with no emotion in her voice. “If they’re going to move us, it should be into a permanent home, not out of sight for a day just so that rich people can throw a party.”
James, another homeless man who did not want to give his last name because he did not want his family to read about him in the news, said: “They are making us out to be criminals, a public safety hazard. What’s all that about?”
“We don’t bother anybody. We don’t go up on anyone. We just take whatever we are given,” he added.
Alison Heart, a retired nurse and local resident who was waiting for a bus next to a pile of sleeping bags left by homeless people, also took exception to Mr. Dudley’s approach.
“The unpleasant sight is not what is shameful here; it’s the fact that we are not providing these poor people with warm homes in the middle of winter,” she said.
None of the homeless people in the area said they thought that Prince Harry or the rest of the royal family had anything to do with Mr. Dudley’s request to the police.
“Harry is the most common out of all the royals and helps out poor people,” James said. “I don’t think he had anything…