The truth about Prince Harry and William's step-sister

The royal family was in the spotlight a lot in the first half of 2020. With Meghan Markle and Harry stepping down from their roles as senior members to her majesty Queen Elizabeth taking abundant caution in the face of a growing pandemic, they've faced extra attention. That health-related caution is nothing new though, since the queen apparently always keeps an extra bag of blood on hand when she travels because... you know... just in case anyone needs some extra blood to go around.

Overall, the royal family has had its fair share of run-ins with the media, and rumor has it that ruthless tabloid coverage even had a hand in Markle and Harry's final decision to step down. In the past, Prince Harry hinted his decision to step away from the throne was in part due to the media coverage that he called "a powerful force," according to the Associated Press. He even drew parallels between the media that followed his wife and the coverage that followed his mother, Princess Diana, to her grave. Markle and Harry at one point got into legal altercations with the press, suing over intrusion.

But with all the media attention following the royal family, there's one member who has successfully evaded it for a long time: Princes William and Harry's step-sister, Laura Lopes.

Laura Lopes works in the art world

Technically a step-sister to the royal brothers, Laura Lopes is the step-daughter of Prince Charles and biological daughter of his second wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, according to Oh! My Mag. Her biological father, Andrew Parker Bowles, was Camilla's first husband before she married the Prince of Wales. And when Prince Charles and Camilla officially married in 2005, Laura came with. She's also got a brother named Thomas Parker Bowles, who works as a food critic and tends to keep a low profile, per Hola! magazine.

Lopes has since married her now-husband, Harry Lopes. The couple has three kids: Eliza, Gus, and Louis (yes — that means there's another Louis in the family besides our favorite Prince Louis). This would also mean the three children are technically cousins to Princes George and Louis, Princess Charlotte, and baby Archie.

Besides being a mother and wife, 42-year-old Laura Lopes is an art curator, who has managed art galleries in the past and even co-founded her very own in London, Eleven, in 2005, according to Hola! mag. Now that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have taken a step back, does that mean this could be Lopes' time to shine?

Laura Lopes' privileged upbringing

As Camilla Parker Bowles' youngest child (and only daughter), Laura Lopes has led a seemingly privileged life (even before her mother married into the royal family). 

After attending an all-girls' catholic boarding school in Dorset, Lopes studied History of Art and Marketing at Oxford Brookes University, per The Sun, before working in her own gallery. In 2006, Lopes married former model and current accountant Harry Lopes ... who has his own noble roots. "Harry is the son of a baron, who is in line to inherit Gnaton Hall in Devon and Skelpick estate in the Scottish Highlands," The Sun stated, while Cosmopolitan noted he is also related to the uber-wealthy Astor family.

Of course, none of this is very surprising considering the Parker Bowles family had been intermingling with the royals decades before Camilla and Prince Charles ever became a thing. According to BBC News, Camilla's great-grandmother (Alice Keppel) was mistress to Charles' great-great-grandfather (King Edward VII). There's also that pesky fact no one can ignore about Prince Charles being named godfather to Lopes' brother, Tom Parker Bowles, years before becoming his step-dad. Yep, you read that correctly. Basically, Prince Charles used to be friends with Lopes' father, Andrew Parker Bowles, who also once dated Charles' sister, Princess Anne. The British royals apparently like to keep their circles close! Moving right along...

Laura Lopes didn't get along with this royal step-brother in the beginning

Laura Lopes' parents got divorced in 1995, when she was 17 years old. By the time her mother, Camilla Parker Bowles, remarried to Prince Charles a decade later, years of legendary affair speculation had plagued the royal couple. And rumor has it that the blending of the two families — about a year after the death of Charles' ex-wife, Princess Diana — wasn't exactly all sunshine and rainbows at the beginning.

In her 2010 book, William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls, royal reporter Katie Nicholl claimed that both of Camilla's kids were "teased mercilessly" by other children at school for her romance with the Prince of Wales. This obviously had an effect on the teenage Lopes, since she allegedly tried to shut down her mother's rekindled relationship early on. "When Charles telephoned Camilla at the family home in Wiltshire," Nicholl wrote. "Laura would pick up an extension and shout down the receiver, 'Why don't you stop calling Mummy and leave our family alone.'"

Lopes also reportedly had struggles with her future step-brother, Prince William. "William and Laura used to have terrible fights over who was to blame for their broken homes," Nicholl wrote, noting that a family friend had claimed, "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.'"

This blended royal family eventually worked through these issues

Laura Lopes' initial struggles with her blended family seem to be water under the bridge, as she appears to get along just fine with the royals these days. 

In addition to her being a guest at step-brother Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018, both Prince William and Harry made sure they were present when Lopes said "I do" to Harry Lopes in 2006. According to Hello!, "William and [then-girlfriend] Kate [Middleton] flew in from their holiday in Mustique, while Harry jetted back from Cape Town where he'd been staying with then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy" in order to attend the Lopes' nuptials. And when it came to step-brother William's 2011 wedding to Duchess Kate, Laura Lopes was not only in attendance, but her daughter, Eliza Lopes, nabbed a coveted role as a bridesmaid. You may recognize young Eliza's face in the sweet photo that went viral of step-granddad Prince Charles holding her on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the ceremony. 

However, Eliza's role in William's big day was stressful for mama bear Lopes. About a month before the wedding, Lopes said (via The Telegraph), "It is incredibly nerve-racking ... Not for Eliza — she's too young to understand really — but I am terrified she will get half-way down the aisle and then go, 'I need a poo.'" Luckily for Lopes, it looks like Eliza pulled off her bridesmaid duties without a bathroom request, so those worries are water under the bridge, too.

Why you don't hear much about Prince Charles' step-kids

Laura Lopes and her brother, Tom Parker Bowles, have managed to live surprisingly private lives, considering their mother married the royal who's next in line to become King of England. So, how exactly have Prince Charles' step-kids managed to escape the paparazzi, who have infamously hounded royal new bloods like Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle? 

In a 2019 interview with Good Morning Britain (via Express), Parker Bowles said it's because he and Lopes are "not quite part of the royal family." When the reporter asked what it's like being thrown into the royal family, he replied, "We're the common children. We're just on the side ... My mother married into it. She's part of it." However, despite being "straight-out commoners," as Parker Bowles referred to himself and Lopes in a previous interview with 9 News Australia, there is a chance that both of Prince Charles' step-children could get their own royal titles if their step-dad "ascends the throne," according to Express. 

Could there be a future Princess Laura Lopes? Time will tell if that will happen. But, if it does, we highly doubt her anonymity would continue. Stay tuned.

Laura Lopes' children are 'spoiled' by Granny Cornwall

If no one else reaps the benefits of Camilla Parker Bowles being married to a royal, it sounds like her grandchildren do. Rumor has it that all three of Laura Lopes' children (along with all of their royal and non-royal cousins) are spoiled rotten by their Granny Cornwall. In The Real Camilla: HRH The Duchess of Cornwall documentary (via Hello!), Camilla gushed about being a grandma, saying that she loves to give her grandchildren "a wonderful time, spoil them, give them all the things their parents won't allow them to have and then give them back again."

Apparently, Granny Cornwall does just that at the start of each summer when she "hosts a massive party for both her grandchildren and the grandchildren of friends, and it sounds like a toddler's dream come true," as Good Housekeeping put it. Per the outlet, Penny Junor shared an example in The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair that Rocked the Crown, writing, "In 2016, there were about 90 children tucking into sandwiches, cakes, and jellies and roaring around the garden at Clarence House, having tugs of war and watching spellbound as magicians did tricks and entertainers made them laugh."

If you're wondering what Laura Lopes' kids call their indulgent Granny Cornwall, the answer is "GaGa," according to the Daily Mail. In a 2013 interview with the publication, Camilla quipped, "I don't know if it's because they think I am, but it is still very sweet."