Families sometimes come with a lot of drama and maybe a secret lovechild or step-sibling, and it's no different for this royal family! King Charles III has a stepdaughter and stepson that no one really talks about until now.
Tying the Knot
Known as the "fairytale wedding of the century," Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer tied the knot on July 29, 1981. The world was infatuated by the new Princess of Wales, but not so much with Charles...
The public instantly loved Diana for her beautiful statue and friendly demeanor, but there was a lot of tension hiding beneath her smile (and their marriage). People could feel the off energy between them, and everyone thought it was partly due to a woman named Camilla Parker Bowles.
Three’s a Crowd
It became pretty obvious right away that things between Charles and Diana were not working out. The public absolutely loved Diana but could see there was some sadness in her eyes. "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," Diana told BBC in 1995.
So who was the third person? Well, it was Camilla Parker Bowles. Camilla was Charles' girlfriend from the early '70s, but they eventually broke up when the prince was sent overseas with the Royal Navy. However, those closest to him knew that he couldn't get her off his mind.
The Prince and Princess of Wales soon started a family together. Diana gave birth to the future royal princes William in 1982 and Harry two years later. Diana later called this time "some of the happiest years of her life," but things all slowed down when she began having second thoughts about Charles.
The mother of two speculated her husband was having an affair with his ex-girlfriend, Camilla. However, it wasn't until 1994 that Charles admitted to beginning to see Camilla around 1986 when their boys were still toddlers. He called their marriage "irretrievably broken down" by that point.
Divorce & Death
However, it wasn't just Charles looking for love outside of his marriage. It was later revealed that Diana's "greatest love" she'd ever have was with her bodyguard, Barry Mannakee. As much as the Prince and Princess tried to make their love work, by 1996, they divorced.
Despite the divorce, the couple remained friendly for both the nation and their sons, William and Harry. The following year, Charles explained to his sons who Camilla was, planning for them to meet for the first time. However, things were held off after Diana tragically died in a car crash that same year.
Resistant to Meeting Camilla
Diana's sudden death completely shook the world. At only 36 years old, the Princess of Wales was beloved for her sense of relatability, activism, charity, and style (of course), but it was her two sons, Harry and William, that took the loss the hardest.
Because of their tight-bonded relationship with their mother, Harry and William were reluctant to meet Camilla, especially following Diana's death. Charles decided to quietly pursue his relationship with Camilla but knew it would take time before his sons would be comfortable with the idea.
Charles and Camilla's relationship just continued to grow and grow through the years, but they had to consider it wasn't just the two of them involved. In fact, it wasn't just William and Harry they had to be respectful and caring towards, but Camilla herself had children.
Camilla is mother to two children, her son, Tom, born in 1974, and her daughter Laura, born four years later. Her children, older than Charles' were slightly more aware of their parent's dating situation at the time. Tom was even named as one of Prince Charles' godsons.
The time would eventually come when Charles' boys would eventually meet Camilla. William went first, initiating the first meeting at age 16, while Harry would only meet her later on. Despite their first meeting going well, it took them both some time to be comfortable with the idea that his father was with another woman.
It was an extensive adjustment period for everyone, not just Harry and William. Camilla's children, Laura and Tom, also needed time to fully accept their new family's situation. At first, all four children were hesitant about blending families, making the early years pretty tricky.
In fact, it took quite a bit of time for all the children to get along. According to royal biographer Katie Nicholl in her 2010 book William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls, "William and Laura used to have terrible fights over who was to blame for their broken homes."
She continued, "William would blame Camilla for all the hurt she had caused his mother, which would send Laura into a rage. Laura was not having any of it. She would take a hard line and fire back at William, 'Your father has ruined my life.'" It must have already been challenging to blend families, let alone in the royal spotlight.
The Fighting Continues
William and Harry were dealing with the loss of their mother while trying to understand how to accept new siblings into their life, all while coming to terms with their father's infidelity. However, it wasn't just them going through challenging times; Camilla's children were, too, experiencing hardships.
According to Nicholl, whenever Charles would call Camilla, Laura would pick up and tell him to stop calling. "She could care less that it was the Prince of Wales; she blamed him for breaking up her parents' marriage and was not afraid to tell William so."
Paparrazi Invades Their Privacy
Although they didn't get married for years to come, Charles and Camilla attempted to merge their families as best as they could early on. As for Laura and Tom, not only did they have to deal with accepting a new father figure and siblings in their life, they had to come to terms with their mother's public affair with the Prince of Wales.
Dating the Prince of Wales meant paparazzi and a whole lot of it. "When it first started, we thought it was entirely normal growing up to have five or six paparazzi hanging around – we would go up there with binoculars and say, 'Oh look mummy, there's five today,'" Told told A Current Affair in 2015.
Tried To Maintain a Normal Lifestyle
Unlike Harry and William, the Parker Bowles children never received any instruction on how to handle the press. Tom told A Current Affair that even though they were linked to the royal family, they decided to pursue their lives as "straight-out commoners."
"It was plain common sense," he added. "And I certainly learned the hard way through whenever I got into trouble for being caught with [substances]… I thought everyone else was doing it. Why can't I do it, but I found out soon why – it goes to the front page of the News of the World."
Despite doing their best to keep out of the spotlight, Tom and Laura still found themselves being attacked by the paparazzi. Camilla's son recalled a horrible event with the paparazzi, calling the media "bullies," that almost led him to become physical with them, even though he admitted to never getting to that point.
"They [the paparazzi] made you very angry," he said. "And when you were 15 or 16, and you're coming out of an airport, and they were really winding you up, and all I wanted to do was smack in the face," he said. Maybe it was this linked hatred for the press that would eventually connect all the children.
Tying the Knot
As time continued, William and Harry started to get closer to their future stepmother and spent more and more time together, and by 2005 Camilla and Charles decided it was time to get married. However, Harry later admitted he supported his father and "endorsed" Camilla but wasn't sure he should be getting married.
"William and I wanted our father to be happy … We asked him not to get married, he chose to, and that's his decision. But the two of them were, and are, very happy together," Harry told ITV News in 2023. Harry also told BBC that she makes him very happy, and that "is the most important thing."
Not the Wicked Stepmother
Regardless of the rumors, Harry has actually always had a special connection to their stepmother and held the utmost respect towards her. "Look at the position she's come into. Don't always feel sorry for me and William; feel sorry for her," he said to Hello! magazine. "We are grateful for her… we're very happy to have her around."
Harry told BBC that he and his older brother loved Camilla "to bits," adding that she's "always been very close" the both of them. The young prince also made sure to announce that "she's not the wicked stepmother. I'll say that right now," he said.
Besides the rumors that Camilla was the family's "wicked stepsister," there was another trailing rumor that followed the family for quite a while. A British man in Australia named Simon Dorante-Day claims that he is the love child of King Charles III and Camilla!
Day says that Camilla fell pregnant at 18 and gave birth without anyone knowing, and gave him up for adoption. He also claims that Princess Diana knew and that she planned to spill the secret before she passed away. He's called for DNA multiple times, saying he's "never had that opportunity" to know his real family.
Laura Gets Married
Once Camilla Parker Bowles and Charles, Prince of Wales, got married, their children officially became step-siblings, and despite their angsty past, the siblings eventually moved past their growing pains. William and Laura, who had it in for each other the worst growing up, even settled their differences.
In 2006, William, his future wife, Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry all attended Laura's wedding. How's that for a happy family? Laura married aristocrat Harry Lopes, a model turned accountant, and together they have three children, Eliza and twin boys, Gus and Louis.
A Young Bridesmaid
As the years continued, all four children got closer and closer. They finally realized that despite all the drama from their childhood, the family would always come first, and they would be there to support each other no matter what. So when it came down to Williams's own royal wedding, his step-siblings were front and center.
After years of dating, Prince William and Kate Middleton tied the knot at Westminster Abbey in London, England, with Larura's daughter Eliza helping as one of the Princess' bridesmaids. In the family photos, the little three-year-old is having a hard time smiling for the camera! We get it.
From an early age, Camilla's daughter, Laura Lopes, has chosen to live a more private lifestyle. Although she attends major royal events with her mother, step-father, and step-siblings, she keeps a pretty lowkey lifestyle, well out of the public eye.
What we do know is that Lopes is an art curator. In 2001, she was Tatler's motoring correspondent, while her brother worked for the same magazine as a food columnist. She managed The Space Gallery in London in the mid-2000s and, in 2005, co-founded London's Eleven Gallery.
Tom's Party Days
On the other hand, her brother, Tom, was considered a tad more in the spotlight. Tom Parker Bowles was in the tabloids almost as much as his royal stepbrothers-and those two were, and still are, constantly making headlines! After graduating from Oxford, things became difficult for Camilla's son, who was quite the young partier.
In 1999, he was working as a junior publicist for Dennis Davidson Associates, a public relations firm, when he was reportedly arrested for offering illegal substances to an undercover officer. He later admitted to having a substance abuse public after the news went public.
Pulling Himself Together
At that point, everyone was concerned about Tom's well-being and his drug use problem. He had become quite close with his stepbrothers, so when he was busted, he had to convince his stepfather that he had never taken any substances in front of his younger siblings.
It was a tough time for the family, both privately and publically, but eventually, Tom got his act together, thanks to his sister Laura. According to BBC, Laura told her brother, "You've been a bloody fool. Pull yourself together." And that's exactly what he did.
Becoming a Food Critic
Since dropping his party boy moniker, Tom Parker Bowles has put all his energy into his love for food! Bowles became a well-respected food critic and writer, working for major publications such as Esquire, GQ, and The Mail on Sunday. He even went on to write seven cookbooks!
Bowles won the Guild of Food Writers award in 2010 and has served as a judge on multiple Australian and British cooking shows. In 2005, he married Sara Buys, an editor for Harpers & Queen and British Town & Country, and together they have two children, Lola and Freddy.
Good Cop vs. Bad Cop
Even though there were some major hurdles along the way for the Parker Bowles children and Charles' family, things eventually found their place. And in retrospect, Tom gave 9 News Australia a little insight into his childhood, calling his mother the "goop cop."
"You need the good cop, and you need the bad cop, and she was definitely the good cop," he said. "When I was getting a telling off for a bad report or something like that, my mother would be in the window behind my dad making faces." We love to hear that!
Despite their strong relationship, Tom found it extremely difficult when the news of "Camillagate" broke. A transcript of an intimate conversation between Camilla and Prince Charles was leaked a month after the Prince and Princess of Wales had split, causing major controversy and shock amongst the public.
As for her son, he told the press, "I sort of remember not looking at the paper… I just felt [expletive] off. I wasn't going to read that sort of stuff about my mother, just as much as she wouldn't want to read it about me, or my kids certainly wouldn't want to read it about me."
Their entire six-minute phone conversation was exposed to the world, shedding light on the infidelity between Camilla and Charles. However, the future Queen Consort of the United Kingdom handled the situation with grace, a true testament to her character as a public figure and mother.
According to Tom, Camilla was always a fun-loving mother. He told 9 News Australia that "She just cared we were happy, and she was happy that my father had the role of having to be the disciplinarian… She was always great fun; she still is great fun; she never worried."
They Made Eachother Happy
"All you care about your parents is they're happy, and my mother is exceptionally happy at the moment," Tom said. The food critic added, "[Prince Charles has] always been a kind and good and lovely man." And now they have been happily married for nearly two decades.
And at the end of the day, all Tom and his sister wanted was to see their mother happy. In 1973, she married British Army officer Andrew Parker Bowles, and they divorced just over twenty years later. It was understandably difficult for her children to accept the new man in their lives, just as it was for William and Harry to accept Camilla.
"He Will Make a Fantastic King"
Although we saw more news surrounding Harry and William's "tough" relationship with Camilla, the reality is, they all had a hard time accepting a new parental figure in their lives. However, each child grew to love and respect their parent's new partner, accepting them into the family.
"I've always adored my stepfather," Tom said. "He is a man of warmth, intelligence, and humanity, and I think if it ever happens, he will make a fantastic king." Well, it did happen! He is officially the King of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, making Camilla Queen Consort of the United Kingdom.
Adapting to the Royal Lifestyle
Following Queen Elizabeth's death, Charles III inherited the throne, making him the reigning king, which means Camilla is now the active Queen. Now officially known as Camilla, Queen Consort, a title that is given to the wife or husband of a monarch, she has a completely new set of responsibilities.
"My mother never really worked, except for bringing us up of course, and now, at an age most people are thinking of retiring, she is suddenly having up to 20 to 30 engagements a day. She's brilliant at it, she's always been brilliant with people," Tom said of his hardworking mother.
Tom clearly respects his mother, her position as the new Queen Consort, and her marriage to King Charles, but unfortunately for him, things weren't too easy when it came to his own marriage. In 2018, rumors suggested that he and his wife were separating.
The rumors even said that he had moved out of their family home, living in his home a few miles away. "They are being very clear the separation is not final, and they are not getting divorced. There is no one else involved. The concern of both Tom and Sara is for the stability and happiness of their children," a source told The Sun.
Despite the ongoing and misleading rumors, Tom and his wife Sara were together, trying to make things work. Half a year into the stories, the couple were spotted together as a family with their children at Trooping The Colour to see their grandmother, the Queen, for her 92nd birthday.
With them were Tom's sister, Laura Lopes, and her children. Even with all the family drama, they knew that they would always have each other. We do wonder how often they get together with their royal stepbrothers and their families, but that might not be such public information.
Letting It All Out
It's now been nearly thirty years since Princess Diana's death and almost two decades since Camilla married into the royal family. With all the family rumors, drama, secrets, affairs, and triumphs, both sides of the family have finally reconciled their differences and love and respect each other.
However, in Harry's recent memoir, Spare, he doubles down on his stepmother. He said in an interview that he has a "huge amount of compassion for her" but also calls her "dangerous" because of her connections with the media. So which one is it? The royal drama appears to never die, does it…