Camilla's son reveals his children's nickname for Prince Charles

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read
Tom Parker Bowles is the godson and stepson of Prince Charles. (Getty Images)
Tom Parker Bowles is the godson and stepson of Prince Charles. (Getty Images)

The Duchess of Cornwall's son has revealed his children call Prince Charles "Umpa", as he shared details of what life is like when the future king is your stepfather.

Tom Parker Bowles was speaking to The Times as he launches his new book, Time For Tea, and said his children, now 13 and 11, grew up calling the prince "Umpa", while Camilla was known as "Gaga".

Parker Bowles, now an established food writer and critic, is the son of Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles who were married in 1973.

Although Camilla and Prince Charles had previously dated, their relationship did not move to engagement in their youth, but they remained close friends.

Prince Charles is Parker Bowles's godfather, so has been in his life longer than as his stepfather.

Britain's Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla have selected this family photograph taken at their wedding last April for their 2005 Christmas card. The photograph features Charles' sons, Prince Harry, (far left) and Prince William (2nd L), Camilla's children Laura (2nd R) and Tom Parker Bowles, (far right) gathered around Charles and Camilla in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, west of London. It is the first time Camilla has appeared on Charles' Christmas card.   /WPA POOL/PA (Photo credit should read HUGO BURNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla at their wedding in 2005 with Charles' sons, Prince Harry, (far left) and Prince William (2nd L), Camilla's children Laura (2nd R) and Tom Parker Bowles, (far right). (Hugo Burnand/AFP via Getty Images)

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By the late 1980s, Charles and Camilla had rekindled their relationship, and Parker Bowles recalled paparazzi being outside their home waiting to get pictures of his mother, when he was 13.

He was 18 when Diana lifted the lid on Charles and Camilla's relationship and then was at university, aged 19, when tapes of an intimate conversation between his mother and the prince were leaked.

Despite the difficult past, he is affectionate about Charles, who he said is "sweet and gentle" and "ahead of his time".

But he did not comment on the apparent rift between Charles and Prince Harry, and even said he did not watch Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Parker Bowles told the paper: "I wasn’t around. 

"What can I say? Families are never easy but they’ll work it out in the end."

He added: "I stay out of that. That’s nothing to do with me."

Watch: Tom Parker Bowles shares tips to perfecting English tea time

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Camilla has previously spoken of her close relationship with her son and grandchildren. Parker Bowles's children are Lola, aged 13, and Freddy, aged 11.

As well as son Tom Parker Bowles, she has a daughter Laura Lopes, who has three children - Eliza, 13, and twins Gus and Louis, 11.

In July 2020, Camilla guest edited The Emma Barnett Show on Radio 5, before the presenter moved over to host Woman's Hour. 

She told Barnett she was missing hugging her grandchildren, but that she'd adapted to becoming a Zoom granny.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21:  Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and son Tom Parker Bowles attend Fortnum & Mason's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon for the launch of Tom Parker Bowles' new book
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and son Tom Parker Bowles at the launch of Tom Parker Bowles' book "Let's Eat Meat" in, 2014 in London. (David M. Benett/Getty Images for Fortnum & Mason)

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They also called Parker Bowles during the show, with Camilla discussing what kind of mother she was.

Barnett took the opportunity to ask if his mother was a strict parent.

After hesitating a bit, he said: “My mother? Strict... no.”

Camilla replied: “You know when I’m cross.”

They also spoke about their differences in tase, with Tom saying he likes chilli and spiced food, but she prefers “plain” dishes.

He said: “We argue in the kitchen, she would say I was doing something wrong, I would moan her knives are blunt or not enough light, so it’s best if we keep separate.”

Camilla said: “Tom is a very good cook, and he is dead right, he loves everything very very hot, he adores chillies, I’m afraid to say I don’t.

“He complains about my kitchen, he says I’ve haven’t got the modern stuff, everything’s wrong, my knives are blunt.”

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