Reintroducing Camilla Parker Bowles As ‘the Wicked Stepmother’

In Prince Harry's memoir, Spare, he recalls begging his father—alongside Prince William—not to marry Camilla.

Reintroducing Camilla Parker Bowles As ‘the Wicked Stepmother’
Photo:Mark Cuthbert /Chris Jackson (Getty Images)

For those nourished by British Royal family gossip, boy are you sure eating well today! Excerpts from a Spanish version of Prince Harry’s upcoming book Spare have leaked so we’re now stocked with enough drama to keep us entertained throughout this temperate winter. While more notable stories like Prince William attacking Harry have made the front pages of gossip-minded sites (ours included), I don’t want anyone to overlook the “wicked stepmother” edit Harry has given the queen consort, Camilla Parker Bowles.

Harry writes of talking to his father, now-King Charles: “The only thing we asked for in return was that he didn’t marry her. ‘You don’t need to get married again,’” Harry reportedly wrote in his book. He also claimed that he and William “begged” Charles not to marry Parker Bowles; they feared she would become a “wicked stepmother.”

Charles and Parker Bowles have long been romantically involved, before and, infamously, during Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana. On that note alone, I don’t blame Harry or William for not enthusiastically welcoming her into their family after their mother’s death.

“Willy had been suspicious of the Other Woman for a long time, which confused and tormented him,” Harry writes. “When those suspicions were confirmed, he felt agonizing remorse for not having done or said anything before.”

For years, Charles and Parker Bowles remained partnered but unmarried. They didn’t get married until April 2005, when Harry was 20 years old.

Following Diana’s death, Camilla was pretty heavily disliked by the public. It took a considerable amount of time and effort for her to shed the image of “the other woman”; she ultimately landed in an at-best neutral standing. But now here comes Prince Harry with this big ol’ book of bombs, including his obvious dislike of his stepmommy. Whether or not that is ultimately warranted, Harry’s dragging of the woman is of no service to the milquetoast image she worked so hard to achieve.

What else did the wicked stepmother do to her poor prince of a stepson? Well, just let’s go look at Harry’s old room. Oh wait, we can’t! It’s now a closet full of frocks and fascinators! Parker Bowles apparently turned it into her dressing room. Page Six made sure to point out that while she isn’t as fashionable as Meghan or Kate, Parker Bowles “certainly has a large enough wardrobe to merit extra storage.”

“I tried not to care. But especially the first time I saw it, I cared,” writes Harry. Aside from throwing people to the ground, that’s about as angry as Brits seem to get. “I cared.” Them’s fighting words!

I’m of two minds about this closet situation. Clarence House has five bedrooms, as well as other multi-use rooms. It does feel a little unnecessary to turn Harry’s old room into a dressing room when there were certainly more options. On the other hand, Harry was 28 years old when he moved out. Like, let your weird dad’s wife have your room, dude. Grow up.

To be clear, I don’t feel bad for Parker Bowles over this rebrand Harry has swooped in and given her. I think if she had a particular desire to maintain good standing with the public, she could have put herself out there a little more. In fact, I do sort of long to learn more about the mysterious woman Charles wished he was a tampon for. In which case, thank you Harry, for revamping her boring stuck-up image: She might have turned your room into her closet, but you’ve pulled a bunch of old skeletons out of Clarence House’s own closets.

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