Royal family trees often have a long and complicated history with stories of cousins once or twice removed, illegitimate children, and even disowned relatives. So it’s no wonder that there are some forgotten siblings within the current house of Windsor and the fact that we don’t hear much about them is certainly no accident. Princes William and Harry have a stepsister who not many people know about and a stepbrother who caused quite a bit of trouble in his heydey. Read on to learn who they are…
A Marriage Not Built To Last
Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981, in what then was considered the “fairytale wedding of the century.” People were enamored with the newly-appointed Princess of Wales but unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of Prince Charles.
There was tension brewing beneath the surface of their marriage and this was no secret to the public. Everyone knew it was partly caused by a woman named Camilla Parker Bowles.
“There Were Three Of Us In This Marriage”
Within five years, the cracks in Charles and Diana’s marriage were blatantly apparent. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Diana would later tell the BBC in 1995.
The third person, of course, was Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles’s ex-girlfriend from the early ‘70s. They broke up in 1973 when the prince went overseas with the Royal Navy. Those in Charles’ inner circle knew that he never quite got over it.
Charles Pursued The Affair After His Sons Were Born
Diana had Prince William and Prince Harry in 1982 and 1984, respectively, which she cites as “some of the happiest years of her life.” But it all came to a halt when she suspected that Charles pursued an extramarital affair with Camilla.
Indeed, Charles would later admit in 1994 that he and Camilla resumed their romance as early as 1986. His marriage to Diana was by then “irretrievably broken down” and for her part, Diana began seeking affection elsewhere as well.
The Truth And The Tragedy
Charles and Diana finally divorced in 1996. Despite the divorce, the pair managed to remain civil in order to co-parent their sons. William and Harry never met Camilla when they were young but they certainly knew about her.
In 1997, Charles sat down with his boys to explain his relationship with Camilla, tentatively trying to arrange for all of them to meet. But this was put on hold when Diana died in a car crash the same year.
William And Harry Didn’t Want To Meet Her
William and Harry were very close to Diana, who was very hands-on in raising them. So it’s understandable that they were initially resistant to meeting Camilla, especially after Diana’s death.
Regardless, Charles quietly continued his relationship with Camilla and sought to rehabilitate her public image. He knew that it would never work if she was never seen with the boys but it would take quite some time before they warmed up to her.
William And Harry Weren’t The Only Ones Affected
Not only was Charles worried for his sons when it came to his relationship with Camilla, but he was also concerned about her children as well. Camilla’s children are Tom and Laura, born in 1974 and 1978 respectively. Tom even became one of Prince Charles’s godsons.
A little older than William and Harry, Tom and Laura were more aware of what was going on at the height of the drama between their parents.
The Princes Met Camilla But Still Didn’t Warm Up To Her
In 1998, William initiated his first meeting with Camilla and Harry met her at a later date. Even though their first time meeting Camilla went over well, it took a while for the princes to fully accept her in their lives.
It was an adjustment for everyone, Camilla’s children included. William, Harry, Tom, and Laura weren’t very keen on merging their families. In fact, their early years were pretty rough as it was hard for them to get along.
William And Laura Didn’t Like Each Other One Bit
“William and Laura used to have terrible fights over who was to blame for their broken homes,” writes royal biographer Katie Nicholl in her 2010 book Harry and William.
Nicholl adds, “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.’”
Laura Let The Future King Know Exactly How She Felt
While William and Harry dealt with the repercussions of their mother’s heartbreak and their father’s infidelity, undoubtedly there was pain on the Parker Bowles’ end also.
Whenever Charles would call Camilla on the phone, Laura would reportedly 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,” writes Nicholl.
Paparazzi Invaded Their Lives As Well
Growing up, Tom and Laura also had to deal with the repercussions of their mother’s public affair with the Prince of Wales.
“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,’” Tom revealed to A Current Affair in 2015. Unlike the princes, Tom and Laura didn’t receive training on how to deal with any of it.
They Still Tried To Live Their Lives Normally
Tom went on to say that despite being associated with the royal family, they continued to go about their lives as “straight-out commoners.”
“It was plain common sense, and I certainly learned the hard way through whenever I got into trouble for being caught with [recreational drugs]… 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.”
They Grew Up Hating The Media
Undoubtedly, Tom and Laura grew up with a certain disdain for the media. Tom referred to the media as “bullies” and added, “they made you very angry 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 them in the face.” Tom admitted he never got physical with the paparazzi despite his urges.
Still, he and Laura — as well as William and Harry — eventually overcame their uncomfortable situations and worked out their differences.
Eventually, William And Harry Warmed Up To Camilla
Ever since first officially meeting Camilla in 1998, William and Harry developed their relationship with her slowly over time. Indeed, by the time Camilla and Prince Charles tied the knot in 2005, the boys had nothing but good words to say about their new stepmother.
After the nuptials, Harry told the BBC that Camilla is “a wonderful woman and she’s made our father very, very happy, which is the most important thing.”
She Wasn’t The “Wicked Stepmother”
Harry went on to say that he and his older brother loved Camilla “to bits.” “To be honest with you, she’s always been very close to me and William… but no, she’s not the wicked stepmother. I’ll say that right now,” he said.
As for Tom and Laura, who officially became their stepsiblings, the trials of the past seemed to be water under the bridge. Royal sources say that the kids got along quite well when they let go of their painful pasts.
William Supported His Stepsister On Her Big Day
It seemed that William and Laura, who initially had the worst spats when they were younger, patched things up as well. This was evidenced by the fact that he, Harry, and Kate Middleton (before she became a royal) were all invited to Laura’s wedding in 2006.
Laura married aristocrat Harry Lopes, a former Calvin Klein model turned accountant. The Lopes went on to have three children: a daughter named Eliza and twin boys, Gus and Louis.
Laura’s Daughter Was In William’s Wedding
There was no doubt that William had grown closer to his stepsister Laura, especially when it came to his own royal wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011. Laura’s daughter Eliza helped serve as one of Kate’s bridesmaids on the big day.
Eliza, who was only three at the time, can be seen holding onto a toy snake in official royal photos of the wedding. The toy was given to her by her step-uncle Harry.
Laura Lives A Quiet Life Out Of The Spotlight
Considering all the trouble Tom got himself into as a young adult, Laura has understandably chosen to live her life out of the spotlight. The public mostly only sees her and her family at major royal events alongside her mother, so not a lot is known about her personal life.
What the public does know is that these days Laura is a working mother, who has a successful career as an art curator.
Tom Made Headlines Back In The Day
For his part, Tom Parker Bowles has been in the spotlight almost just as much as his royal stepbrothers. After graduating from Oxford, Tom dabbled in film public relations and was a bit of a hard partier.
In 1999, he admitted to having a cocaine problem and was reportedly arrested after he offered some to an undercover officer. This prompted a scolding from this godfather turned stepdad, Prince Charles, after the report became public.
Prince Charles And Laura Had To Set Him Straight
Everyone was especially concerned about Tom’s drug use since by then, he was quite close with Prince William and Prince Harry. When he received the call from Prince Charles, Tom had to reassure his stepfather that he had never taken drugs in front of his stepbrothers.
According to the BBC, it was his sister Laura that finally told him, “You’ve been a bloody fool. Pull yourself together.” Since then, Tom has done a lot to shed his party boy image.
Tom Is Now A Well-Established Foodie
Tom Parker Bowles has since found a passion for food writing and is known quite well throughout the British media circuit as a former correspondent for GQ, Esquire, and The Mail on Sunday. Tom is also a published cookbook author who has served as a judge on British and Australian cooking shows.
He is married to Sara Buys, an editor for Harpers & Queen and British Town & Country. They have a daughter named Lola and a son named Freddy.
Camilla Was The “Good Cop” Of Their Parents
Despite the drama surrounding their upbringings, Tom has recalled the happy memories he has had of his mother growing up. “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,” he told 9 News Australia.
“You need the good cop and you need the bad cop, and she was definitely the good cop,” he added.
He Couldn’t Believe His Mother Was Put On Blast
When “Camilla-gate” broke out in which an intimate conversation between her and Prince Charles was leaked in 1993, Tom was attending Oxford University. He could barely handle the news.
“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,” he once recalled to the press.
Camilla Cared About Having A Good Time
Tom went on to say that his mother Camilla loved to focus more and he and his sister having fun, rather than disciplining them over serious matters like school—which was their father’s job.
“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,” Tom told 9 News Australia.
He Knew That Prince Charles Made Camilla Happy
While William and Harry had issues accepting Camilla in their lives, it’s understandable that Tom and Laura felt the same way about Prince Charles. But Tom, who is the eldest of the four children, saw how happy his mother was.
“All you care about your parents is they’re happy and my mother is exceptionally happy at the moment… [Prince Charles has] always been a kind and good and lovely man,” Tom said.
Tom Thinks Charles Will Be A Fantastic King
Of course, as he grew more accepting of his mother’s relationship with Prince Charles, he eventually took a liking to the man that would become his stepfather. It just so happened that that man was part of the royal family.
“I’ve always adored my stepfather,” Tom has said. “He is a man of warmth, intelligence and humanity and I think if it ever happens, he will make a fantastic king.”
Tom Thinks The Royal Life Suits His Mother
At the very least, Tom is impressed with the way his mother has adapted into life as the spouse of a royal.
“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 has once said of his mother.
Tom And His Wife Separated
But for Tom, it wasn’t all smooth sailing in marriage. In 2018, rumors swirled around him and his wife Sara stating that they were separating. They even alleged that Tom moved out of their family home and was renting a place two 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.
They Appeared To Be Making Things Work
Despite news of the separation, it seemed that Tom and Sara have been trying to make things work. Six months after the rumors began, they were spotted together with their children front-and-center at Trooping The Colour to see their grandmother and the Queen drive by for the latter’s 92nd birthday.
Also standing with them was sister Laura Lopes and her children. Perhaps Sara Parker Bowles couldn’t handle such close association with the royal family, which is why Tom had something to say about another new member.
There Might Be A Love Child Out There
Of all the rumors surrounding the royal family, one of the most outlandish ones is the claim that Camilla and Prince Charles actually had a love child long before they married their respective first spouses.
A British man in Australia named Simon Dorante-Day claims that he is the son of Camilla and Charles. He claims that Camilla got pregnant at 18 and had the baby without anyone knowing before giving it up for adoption. He also claims that Princess Diana knew about his existence and that she planned to out Camilla and Charlies before she died.
They Have Opinions On Meghan Just Like Everyone Else
Tom and Laura kind of got roped into the royal family because of their mom, so they ought to know how it feels to be newly associated with one of the world’s most famous families. When American actress Meghan Markle joined the royal family as Prince Harry’s wife, Tom was asked about his thoughts.
“I think she’s wonderful,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. When asked what advice he’d give he said, “I think she should carry on what she’s doing.”