Sara Parker-Bowles reveals what it’s like having Queen Camilla as a former mother-in-law, and the 'hate' she used to endure

Sara Parker-Bowles was married to the Queen’s son and remains amicable after divorcing – so much so she got a first-hand look at the Coronation planning

Queen Camilla's former daughter-in-law, Sara Parker-Bowles, has opened up about life with the Queen
(Image credit: Indigo/Getty Images)

Queen Camilla’s former daughter-in-law, Sara Parker-Bowles, has opened up about what it’s like having her children’s grandmother be Queen, how she’s kept a close relationship with her, and the hidden nerves ahead of the historic Coronation.

“The King would like to know what Lola wants for her birthday,” Sara Parker-Bowles recounts an email she received in a new interview with The Times.

“It was just surreal. Like language from a fairytale.”

But this is what happens when your former mother-in-law – who you remain close friends with – becomes Queen.

Tom and Sara Parker-Bowles divorced in 2018, 4 years before Camilla became queen

(Image credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Queen Camilla and Sara Parker-Bowles have kept a close relationship since Sara divorced Camilla’s son, Tom Parker-Bowles, in 2018. And Sara is now sharing some insight into everything that’s changed – and everything that hasn’t – since her former mother-in-law has ascended to become Queen Consort.

For a start, Sara’s children still refer to their grandmother as “Gaga.”

The children – daughter Lola and son Freddy - Sara says, have been relatively unfazed about it all, holidaying at Balmoral and generally hanging out on the edges of history.

“Birkhall [the historic home on Balmoral estate] was never glamorous,” she says. “But it all feels different now. It’s who we are, but it does feel different.”

Sara Parker-Bowles was one of Alexandra Shulman's Vogue staffers

(Image credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

The fact that King Charles is still in touch with his wife’s former daughter-in-law to ask about what she would like for her birthday (Lola turned 16 earlier this year and, sadly, no, we don’t know what King Charles bought for the occasion) is evident on how close the family unit remains.

In fact, Lola and Freddy were front row at May’s Coronation, with Freddy serving as one of the Pages of Honor alongside Prince George.

For Sara, seeing her son on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with her former mother-in-law and the King was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“He wanted to go in the gold carriage, but he didn’t get to. Then his face on the balcony — I could see he was just like, woah! My favorite part of the whole day was that he did a little wave that he wasn’t supposed to.”

“I was quite obsessively watching him,” she laughs. “But I knew by then he was going to be OK, that I could sort of let go.”

Queen Camilla had her grandson by her side during the historic coronation

(Image credit: Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Sara, who has worked for the likes of Vogue and is now launching her own business, Wardrobe Revivals, is happy to have been witness to a full 180 when it comes to the public’s attitude towards Camilla.

Describing the time she first met Tom, Sara calls them “the hate years.”

“[Camilla] wasn’t accepted at all. She didn’t talk about it. She was just very brave and uncomplaining. Tom was worried it would happen all over again when the Queen died, but it has been the opposite.”

About the Coronation, Sara also shares that, “Camilla was really, really nervous. She wanted the people that she loved around her. [The King] wasn’t nervous at all. But Camilla didn’t ask for any of this.”

“She’s the human face of the royal family because she’s not part of it. You need those outsiders really.”

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.