The Duchess of Cornwall has been left “utterly devastated” after her brother died yesterday from a serious head injury sustained in a fall in New York.
Mark Shand, 62, was taken to hospital on Tuesday night after reportedly slipping while lighting a cigarette and hitting his head on the pavement outside an “after-party” for a charity event.
Distraught Camilla is preparing for a high-profile tour of Canada with the Prince of Wales next month.
A Clarence House spokesman said last night: “It is with deep sadness that we have to confirm that the Duchess of Cornwall’s brother, Mark Shand, has today passed away in New York.
“Mr Shand died in hospital as a result of a serious head injury which he sustained during a fall.
“The Duchess, the Prince of Wales and all her family members are utterly devastated by this sudden and tragic loss.
“Mark Shand was a man of extraordinary vitality, a tireless campaigner and conservationist whose incredible work through the Elephant Family [charity] and beyond remained his focus right up until his death.”
Mr Shand was the chairman of the Elephant Family and is known for his work as a conservationist and travel writer.
He was in New York for an auction held at Sotheby’s in aid of a charity for underprivileged children and the Elephant Family, which aims to save the endangered Asian elephant from extinction in the wild.
It was the finale for the month-long “Big Egg Hunt NYC” by Faberge, which saw egg sculptures sold to the highest bidder.
The charity event raised $1.6 million (£950,000) and was also attended by Princess Eugenie, according to reports.
Mr Shand recently hit the headlines after denying claims he was in a relationship with Nancy Dell’Olio, the former girlfriend of ex-England football manager Sven Goran Eriksson.
A spokesman for the Elephant Family said: “Today we have lost the head of our family. Mark Shand was a true force for conservation. He was both a legend and inspiration and, above all, our great friend.”
Mr Shand, Camilla’s only brother, wrote numerous books and featured in documentaries, with elephants and India as recurring themes. The adventurer’s book Queen of the Elephants won the 1996 Thomas Cook travel book award and the Prix Litteraire d’Amis, and was made into a BBC documentary.
During his youth, Mr Shand was a renowned nightclubber who was expelled from Milton Abbey School in Dorset for smoking cannabis and had stints as a rally driver and bobsleigh crew member. His father, Major Bruce Shand, decided to send him to Australia after he was expelled from school and he stopped off in India, where his love of elephants first took hold.
Later in life, he was romantically linked to Bianca Jagger, Jackie Onassis’s sister Lee Radziwill and Ms Onassis’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy.
In 1990, he married former French actress Clio Goldsmith, the niece of billionaire entrepreneur Sir James Goldsmith and the cousin of Jemima Khan and Tory MP Zac Goldsmith. The couple have a daughter, Ayesha.