Prince William and Prince Harry are easily two of the world’s most popular and well-known royals. Over the past few decades, the brothers have domineered most tabloid front pages. William, who was known as Wills the teen heartthrob, has become a respected figure in the royal family. Harry, on the other hand, was labelled a "bad boy" and a "rebel" during his younger years. After marrying Meghan Markle, Harry stepped back from royal life and moved to Los Angeles — but he remains an undoubtedly popular and beloved royal. Of course, their wives, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, have also had their fair share of coverage, too.
While you may think that you know everything about this generation of the royal family, many people don’t realize that William and Harry actually have a stepsister! Camilla Parker Bowles has a daughter named Laura Lopes. Therefore, when Camilla married Prince Charles in 2005, Laura and her brother, Tom Parker Bowles, became part of the family. So why do we never hear about her? And who is this mystery royal stepsister? Here is the truth about Laura Lopes.
Laura Lopes and her brother have never really felt like part of the royal family
Laura Lopes (née Parker Bowles) has never been a prominent figure in the royal family. Many people have never even heard of her. As it turns out, this is probably because she and Tom Parker Bowles have never felt like part of "The Firm." Laura’s brother once said on Good Morning Britain (via Express) that he and Laura were "not quite part of the royal family to be honest." Tom explained that his mother is "part of it" because she "married into it." He went on to joke, "We’re the common children. We’re just on the side." Sounds like Tom and Laura’s "common" blood have made them feel separate from their step-family’s royal duties and lifestyles.
Laura was born on New Year’s Day 1978, which means she was 27 years old in 2005, when her mother tied the knot with Prince Charles; her brother was 30. Camilla’s children were already adults when they joined the family, which may provide another reason why they’ve never felt like a central part of the royal unit.
Laura Lopes is all about art
Unlike her stepbrothers, Laura Lopes has had to forge her own career separate from the royal family. As the Mirror noted, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in History of Art and Marketing. Then, she went on to intern at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Lopes also worked as the motoring correspondent for Tatler magazine when her brother, Tom Parker Bowles, was at the publication at the time as a food columnist.
After her stint in journalism, Lopes, as the Mirror put it, "moved into the art world." In the mid-2000s, she managed the Space Gallery in London. Then, in 2005, she went on to co-found the Eleven Gallery in London. According to Lopes’ professional website, the Eleven Gallery is dedicated to showcasing "emerging and established artists." According to Town & Country, Lopes no longer works at Eleven, but has moved to Wiltshire where she hosts exhibitions. The magazine noted that she also "launched the Hungerford fashion boutique Mojo & Mccoy" with some of her friends. Regarding the boutique, she said, "We all have a unique sense of style, but it works."
The press coverage of Camilla Parker Bowles wasn’t easy on Laura Lopes
According to E!, Camilla Parker Bowles was "determined to give" her children "a stable home life," but that’s not to say things weren’t complicated. When Laura Lopes was young, Prince Charles and her mother were simply friends, exchanging occasional Christmas cards and phone calls. Laura and her brother, Tom Parker Bowles, knew Charles as a family friend. During this period, Camilla was a dedicated mother, attending her children’s school events and driving Lopes to "all her play dates, parties and lessons."
Laura’s father, Andrew Parker Bowles, reportedly had affairs throughout his marriage with Camilla. And then, things were really turned upside down when a private phone call between Camilla and Charles was leaked in 1993. Camilla became a constant figure in the tabloids, and even though she tried to shield her children from the press, Laura and Tom had to deal with the publicity, too. In 1995, when Laura was 17, her parents divorced.
She wasn’t born a royal, but Laura Lopes certainly lived a plush life
Even though Laura Lopes was not born into the royal family, there’s no doubt that the royal stepsister definitely enjoyed a super privileged upbringing. She and her brother grew up at Middlewick House in Wiltshire, an 18th century home that Express called "a beautiful house built in Cotswold stone." After she went to St Mary’s convent, a Catholic all-girls’ boarding school in Shaftesbury, Dorset, she studied at Oxford Brookes University. When she graduated, her parents bought her and her brother an apartment in London’s upscale Kensington area to share (via Hello!).
Despite her privileged upbringing, she has been encouraged to experience a more regular lifestyle, too. While at university, she reportedly shared a house with her fellow students. She also worked as a waitress and dishwasher at a cafe for £3.50 an hour. According to Hello!, Prince Charles apparently "said he thought it would be a good experience" for her.
Laura Lopes became friends with Prince William and Prince Harry in the ’90s
Even though Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles didn’t marry until 2005, their romance began much, much earlier. As the Evening Standard noted, they dated before Charles married Princess Diana in 1981. Charles also admitted to having an affair with Camilla towards the end of his troubled marriage to Di (via Independent). This suggests that it’s highly likely that Laura Lopes met her stepbrothers-to-be well before her mother’s second wedding.
As it turns out, Lopes and her brother did befriend Princes William and Harry as early as 1998. Hello! reported that at the time, a royal aide commented, "The boys [William and Harry] rather look up to Tom as a young man about town." According to the magazine, this was around the time of Camilla’s first public appearance alongside Charles. Hello! also pointed out that Tom Parker Bowles is actually Charles’ godson, so the four stepsiblings sure do seem to have a long history.
Laura Lopes and Prince William apparently didn’t always click
By the sounds of things, Laura Lopes hasn’t always gotten along with her royal stepsiblings. According to Katie Nicholl’s 2010 book William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls, Lopes and William got into frequent arguments around the time of Prince Charles’ marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles. "William and Laura used to have terrible fights over who was to blame for their broken homes," Nicholl wrote. By the looks of things the infamous love triangle between Charles, Camilla, and Princess Diana had soured the stepsiblings’ relationship. "William would blame Camilla for all the hurt she had caused his mother, which would send Laura into a rage," Nicholl added.
Apparently, Lopes didn’t accept William’s version of events. Instead, she blamed Charles for breaking up her family and causing her parents’ marriage to break down. As Nicholl put it, "She would take a hard line and fire back at William, ‘Your father has ruined my life.’" Yikes. Even the royals have to deal with the pain and anger that comes with broken families.
Over time, Laura Lopes got along with her royal stepsiblings
While the early days of Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles’ marriage were tough for their respective children, tempers seemed to calm down; eventually, Prince William and Laura Lopes put their differences aside and made amends. Katie Nicholls wrote in William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls, "When they stopped blaming one another’s parents and let go of their painful pasts, Laura and William got along well."
According to Social Gazette, reports of a friendlier relationship are accurate. Apparently, the stepsiblings have been closer as the princes have accepted Camilla into their family. In Angela Levin’s 2018 book Harry: Conversations with the Prince, Prince Charles’ second-born said, "[Camilla’s] not a wicked stepmother." He added, "She’s a wonderful woman and she’s made our father very, very happy." It’s great to see that Charles and Camilla’s kids have realized how happy their parents are and have finally started getting along "very well," as Town & Country put it.
Laura Lopes married a Calvin Klein model-turned-accountant
In 2006, one year after her mother’s marriage to Prince Charles, Laura Parker Bowles became Laura Lopes when she tied the knot with Harry Lopes. The wedding took place in a quaint Wiltshire village and while it certainly wasn’t quite a royal wedding, the BBC reported that around 500 people filled the streets to catch a glimpse of the bride and her famous stepbrothers.
According to Vogue, Laura wore a dress by Robinson Valentine, "her mother’s favourite fashion house." When speaking about her big day to Town & Country, Laura said, "I got married in May, surrounded by the smell of lily of the valley." She also revealed that personal pictures were her favorite wedding gift. "I love the way they tell a story about that person," she explained.
So who is Laura’s husband, exactly? Harry Lopes in an Eton educated accountant who once worked as a Calvin Klein underwear model. Of his career transition, Laura said to Hello!, "It’s not as much fun as modelling but it’s more reliable." He’s also the son of a baron, and according to the Mirror, he "is in line to inherit Gnaton Hall in Devon, as well as the Skelpick estate in the Scottish Highlands."
Laura Lopes and her husband have three kids
Not only is Laura Lopes happily settled down with her husband in Wiltshire, she’s also a mother of three. She had her first child, Eliza, in January 2008. And then, she welcomed fraternal twins, Gus and Louis (yes, like his cousin, Prince Louis) in December 2009 (via Town & Country).
By the looks of things, the Lopes children are a little more involved in royal life than their mother. Eliza was even a bridesmaid at Kate Middleton and William’s wedding in 2011, and as Hello! reported, she "joined the royals on the balcony at Buckingham Palace after the ceremony."
It’s unknown if Lopes’ children are close with their royal cousins, George, Charlotte, Louis, and Archie, but since they’re occasionally involved in royal ceremonies, we’re sure there are plenty of adorable play dates. Plus, as The Sun reported, Laura was apparently in the running to be godmother to Kate and William’s third child, Louis, so it seems safe to assume the families are pretty close.
Camilla Barker Bowles loves to ‘spoil’ her grandchildren
While Prince William and Kate Middleton are apparently quite close to the Lopes children, it sounds like they’ve got nothing on Camilla Parker Bowles, who, according to the Daily Mail, goes by "GaGa" when she’s with her grandkids. In the documentary The Real Camilla: HRH The Duchess of Cornwall (via Hello!), Camilla said that being a grandmother was "wonderful." She went on to note that she enjoys not being stuck with "the full responsibility" that comes with being a parent but are able to "give them a wonderful time, spoil them, give them all the things their parents won’t allow them to have and then give them back again." Seems like Laura Lopes should keep an eye on how much her mother is spoiling her kids!
The 2020 lockdown was especially hard for the duchess who. As she said to BBC, "I shall look forward to the day when I can give them a huge hug again." Luckily, she managed to spend some time with her family through Zoom. The outlet also noted that she even downloaded the Houseparty app so she can play games with her loved ones.
Laura Lopes has three other stepsiblings on her father’s side
Camilla Parker Bowles divorced her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, in 1995. One year later, he went on to remarry Rosemary Pitman, who was reportedly his long-time mistress. Pitman passed away from cancer in 2020 (via Express). On this side of the family, Laura Lopes actually has a few other stepsiblings: Pitman had three children from her first marriage, who became another branch of Lopes’ extended family.
According to Pitman’s obituary, Lopes was pretty close with her father’s side of the family. Her son told the Daily Mail, "She was especially pleased to reach Christmas and to be able to see her new step-grandchildren," referring to Lopes’ twin boys, Louis and Gus, who were born on New Year’s Eve, 2009. It’s nice to hear that Lopes seems to have strong relationships with all of her stepsiblings on both sides of the family.
When Prince Charles takes the throne, Laura Lopes could get a title
As of 2020, Laura Lopes doesn’t hold any titles, even though her mother became Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall when married Prince Charles in 2005. However, this doesn’t mean that Lopes will never have a title. According to the Express, there’s a good chance that "Charles may bestow royal titles upon his stepchildren when he ascends to the throne." As the IBT reported, Lopes’ status would likely change in a few other ways, too. For instance, as one royal expert noted, the siblings might get "a staffer or two" and might even get protection. However, they’ll never be assigned any royal duties as they aren’t directly in line for the throne themselves.
If Charles doesn’t bestow a title on Lopes, she might still become a baroness thanks to her husband. Harry Lopes is the son of a baron, so she would inherit a title along with her husband upon her father-in-law’s death.
Prince Charles reportedly created a trust for Laura Lopes and her brother
Being the stepdaughter of the heir to the British throne certainly seems to have its perks. According to Hello!, Charles has reportedly come to regard his stepkids as "royals without titles." One royal source told the outlet, "To all intents and purposes, Prince Charles now has a second family." For this reason, the prince reportedly set up a £2 million trust for Lopes and her brother Tom. As the source put it, "He is determined that Laura and Tom should be looked after and supported if the worst happens to him."
Another source further explained the trust to the Evening Standard. "The Prince of Wales is in no way trying to replace the role of their father, Andrew, but he has a good relationship with Laura and Tom." The source went on to state that Charles was also concerned about the increased press attention surrounding Lopes and her brother, and was doing everything possible to keep them protected.
Laura Lopes seems to enjoy a private lifestyle
Despite being part of the extended royal family, Laura Lopes has managed to keep her life relatively private. According to Hello!, Lopes was always "more introverted than her outgoing brother." When it comes to being in the public eye, a friend of Lopes once told the magazine that she "really doesn’t like the attention." In 2006, Lopes chose a local, quaint village church for her wedding ceremony. As one local pub landlord told the Daily Mail, "It’s nice that she can still be herself and not be bothered in the village. Laura’s a very down-to-earth girl and often comes in here so it’s natural that she would want to get married locally."
Lopes also spoke to W Magazine about the difficulties of being a member of the Parker Bowles family, "Sometimes doors can open, but then they slam right back into your face," she said (via Hello!). "It’s not something you want to ride on for the rest of your life, but by no means am I ever embarrassed." Lopes seems to have a sophisticated relationship with her family’s infamous name. Plus, we’re impressed at how she manages to stay under the radar!