Wedding Bells for Prince Charles' Godson

ByCommentary by CHARLOTTE SECTOR

Sept. 9, 2005 — -- Five months after his mom, Camilla, tied the knot with her longtime beau Prince Charles, Tom Parker Bowles will walk down the aisle this weekend to marry his fashion victim girlfriend, Sara Buys.

Tom -- or TPB for short -- is Prince Charles' godson, and has cleaned up his act in the last five years and finds highs in the kitchen instead of nightclubs. And with his mom being squared away and a recent cash windfall courtesy of the prince, TPB can now support his fashion magazine editor girlfriend like a royal princess.

To make it easy for the British jet set, the wedding is only an hour west of London at Rotherfield Greys near Henley-on-Thames. Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, will attend along with his wife, the groom's mother, Camilla, aka the Duchess of Cornwall. Tom's two stepbrothers, Prince William and Prince Harry, are also on the guest list, which may detract the paparazzi away from the couple. However, there's sure to be plenty of flashbulbs to go around, especially at such a happy, extended family gathering.

All you morning coat fans and chapeau aficionados, get your outfits ready because not only will the royal set be there but snagging a pew with a view may be hard with the British society magazine executives attending the service en masse. Tom not only writes a column for a highbrow British society glossy, Tatler magazine, he also helped launch a lifestyle magazine for gazillionaires with his cousin. Sara, meanwhile, works at Harpers & Queen magazine and has invited mastheads galore. Expect her to be keeping an eye on her guests' sartorial choices.

She knows what a poor outfit can do to a girl after being lambasted by the press for her daring choice at the April wedding of Camilla and Charles. As she boarded a bus for the evening shindig, her white skirt revealed more than was deemed proper for a young English lady.

Her fashion faux pas may be the reason 31-year-old TPB fell in love with her. It's not the first time she's erred on the wrong side of caution. In 2001, Tom saved his girlfriend at a Tatler party when she went topless momentarily when the straps of her silk top slid off.

Tom knows a thing or two about hitting the tabloids for all the wrong reasons. While at Oxford, the gregarious Eton grad got busted in 1995 for possession of marijuana and Ecstasy. Maybe he was protesting his mom's divorce from his dad, Andrew Parker Bowles. Regardless, he got a warning and walked free.

After that, the club-going student toned it down, spending more time at home and inviting buddies over for impromptu dinners. TPB said he spent countless hours perfecting pasta sauces. Aside from brewing tomato concoctions, chef Tom dabbled outside the kitchen, too. Whether at the pub or at the library, Tom met his future wife at Oxford. We can only hope it was over a plate of spaghetti.

After graduating, TPB got into public relations and Sara started her magazine career at Vogue. Tom's well-connected and well-heeled buddies made him a natural for the job.

At the same time, the pinstripe suit-wearing man about town became close to Princes William and Harry after the tragic death of their mother, Diana, in a Paris car accident in August 1997. Charles even let TPB shepherd Wills to London's trendy night spots and many watering holes.

That came to an abrupt end when stories of Tom's cocaine use were splashed across the covers of the British tabloids.

The then-24-year-old publicist, traveling for business at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, admitted having a drug problem after being seen using cocaine at a party. A media frenzy ensued, with friends expressing concern that TPB's party circuit involved a fair amount of drugs.

His godfather scolded him, calling him a "bloody fool" and Tom became persona non grata at Buckingham Palace.

Having racked up enough bad publicity for a lifetime, Tom decided to pursue his culinary passion and get another sort of rush. He donned an apron and started writing about cooking for Tatler magazine in 2001. A year later, his cousin signed him on to also contribute to his elite concierge service called Quintessentially.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper that same year, Tom said he had moved on. "I got caught," he said. "I was much younger then and things have changed."

Skinny Sara never seemed to gain heft from all her boyfriend's cooking and she even suggested to her resident chef de cuisine to write a book about cooking. He did just that, which seemed to win back the hearts of Prince Charles and company.

At the 2004 book party for "E is for Eating: An Alphabet of Greed," Charles and Camilla cheered him on. By then, the public had warmed up to the prince's relationship with TPB's mom and within a year, Prince Charles got his wish granted and married the perky horse lover (and according to her son, notable chef) Camilla. Tom and Prince William were witnesses at their respective parent's civil wedding. Wills must be psyched that his stepbrother is walking down the aisle; two weddings in the family in one year will buy him time for a while.

A month before the royal wedding, Tom and his sister, Laura, got a royal welcome into the family. Prince Charles set up two $1.3 million trust funds for his stepchildren-to-be.

Nothing to snort about there.

Maybe Tom used the cash to upgrade his Notting Hill apartment kitchen or Sara put the money toward a wedding gown that wouldn't raise any eyebrows.

Then again, considering the guests and Tom's love of food and good times, the funds might have gone toward a fancier menu at the wedding. No need to stress about the food, Tom. Anything will be better than the leaden, greasy, pork pie served at Eton you so fondly remember.

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