When William and Harry Met Laura and Tom . . . HOW CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES'S CHILDREN HAVE BEFRIENDED THE YOUNG PRINCES

Daily Mail (London), October 24, 1998 | Go to article overview

When William and Harry Met Laura and Tom . . . HOW CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES'S CHILDREN HAVE BEFRIENDED THE YOUNG PRINCES


Byline: RICHARD KAY;GEOFFREY LEVY

SURELY it was only a question of time before Camilla Parker Bowles's two grownup children were linked socially dare one say domestically? with Prince Charles's two teenage boys.

The public now knows what has been a family secret for many months - long before Prince William and Prince Harry met Camilla for the first time this summer, the four children were getting to know each other.

No one should be surprised to find this information seeping out just before Camilla plays host to the crowned heads of Europe at Charles's 50th birthday party at Highgrove next month. Timing, as they say, is everything, and a cosy picture of sibling togetherness is one way of lubricating what could still be an awkward future.

The four children get on well, but it has not been quite as easy for them as has been suggested. Anyone with children who has talked of remarrying will understand why.

Laura Parker Bowles, Camilla's 20-year-old daughter, has been particularly sensitive to the idea of any man taking the place of her father, Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, whom she adores.

Her brother Tom's solution to finding himself caught up in the unending speculation about his mother's relationship with the Prince of Wales was simplicity itself. At Worcester College, Oxford, where he read English, he passed himself off as plain 'Tom Bowles'.

The Brigadier has himself remarried, bringing the former divorcee, Mrs Rosemary Pitman, into his children's lives. They see lots of Laura and Tom, 23, and Laura adjusted to this situation quite quickly.

The constant focus of attention on her mother as the woman who allegedly broke up the fairytale marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales (as well as the

break up of her own parents' marriage) upset Laura, and getting to know William and Harry has been a crucial part of the healing process.

Tom and Laura have become almost as familiar with certain of the royal homes as they are with Highgrove, which they know intimately.

AT EASTER they were Charles's guests at Birkhall, the Queen Mother's home on the Balmoral estate, which he often uses. William and Harry (now 16 and 14) were there and the four spent a lot of time together.

Far from being a barrier, the difference in their ages actually helped.

'The boys rather look up to Tom as a young man about town,' says a royal aide, 'and they took to Laura because she's a pretty girl and they like pretty girls.' Mrs Parker Bowles wasn't there, but her children were paving the way for her first meeting with William three months later.

Poignantly, just before Camilla arrived at St James's Palace that day, the teenage Prince was preparing himself for the encounter over coffee in his room - with Tom Parker Bowles.

The boys have Eton in common, of course, but, on paper at least, little else. Tom works for Soho film publicists Dennis Davidson Associates and ultimately wants to work in Hollywood in the film business (two years ago he spent the summer in the West Country for Emma Thompson's Sense And Sensibility as a crowd marshal in charge of extras).

He and Laura are oriented to metropolitan life and share a flat in Central London.

Surprisingly, for the offspring of a mother who rides to hounds at every opportunity, they care little for the country pursuits, with which Prince Charles has imbued his own sons.

At Oxford, Tom - one of Charles's 60 godchildren - hoped to evade the nastiness that hung about his family name. But by the time he'd established himself as one of the more roistering partygoers and clubland figures of his year, the subterfuge was no longer necessary.

He had also retreated behind a smokescreen of marijuana, which he used liberally - he was eventually arrested and cautioned by police for possessing cannabis and Ecstasy. It was an episode the family darkly suspects was a 'setup' - not by the police, but by someone wanting to blacken the name Parker Bowles. …

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