As any tyke who knows the Cinderella story will tell you, when there are princes involved, stepmothers can be problematic.
Britain's Prince William and Prince Harry have said they are "delighted" by their father's plans to marry Camilla Parker Bowles. Privately, Harry is said to be a little less than enthusiastic. But given the depth of their mother's dislike of "The Rottweiler," as Princess Diana was wont to call her archrival, they'd be less than human if they didn't feel a twinge or two when their father says "I do" to his longtime mistress.
Camilla has been a fixture at Clarence House since Charles took over the palace following his grandmother's death, and thus far she's shown no inclination to meddle in the young princes' lives. In fact, over the years, Mrs. Parker Bowles has demonstrated a commendable ability to keep her mouth shut and ride out the storm.
She also comes with two ready-made stepsiblings for Wills and Harry -- Tom and Laura Parker Bowles. But don't expect a "Brady Bunch"-style blended family, with kids fighting over the bathroom and who made off with Kitty Karry-All.
Tom made headlines in the past due to alleged drug dabbling, and Prince Charles -- who is his godfather as well as his future stepfather -- reportedly banned young Parker Bowles from hanging out with Prince William for a while.
Now 30, Tom seems to have gotten his act together. He has published a cookbook, "E Is for Eating: An Alphabet of Greed," and plans to walk down the aisle in September with his long-term girlfriend, Sara Buys.
Laura Parker Bowles, 26, has always kept a low profile. She works for a London art gallery and is in a long-term relationship with Harry Lopes, a former Calvin Klein model with an aristocratic background
So cheer up, Wills and Harry -- when it comes to royal stepmums, you're really not getting a bad deal in the Rottweiler. It could be far worse -- as your mother, for one, could have told you.
The future Princess Diana was 6 years old when her mother left her father for another man, and subsequently lost custody of all four Spencer children. Though bitter over his divorce, Earl Spencer eventually became enamored of the Countess of Dartmouth -- née Raine McCorquodale, the daughter of famed romance novelist Barbara Cartland.
A divorce from the Earl of Dartmouth freed up Raine for a future with Earl Spencer -- to the horror of his offspring. All four took an instant dislike to Raine and her bizarre bouffant. They called her "Acid Raine" and took to shouting, "Raine, Raine, go away!"
This chilly reception did not discourage Raine, who married the earl in 1976. The Spencer children felt she was selling off too many possessions from Althorp, the family estate; she felt the children were unbearably rude, especially Charles Spencer, Diana's younger brother. Raine nursed her husband back to health after he suffered a devastating stroke, but his children weren't mollified; they felt she prevented them from seeing their father in the hospital.
When the earl died in 1992, Raine was given short shrift. She had to move out of Althorp right away. Charles Spencer, the new earl, reportedly had his stepmother's possessions stuffed into garbage bags.