The Duchess of Cornwall’s brother Mark Shand has died at the age of 62 after sustaining a serious head injury from a fall in New York, Clarence House announced Wednesday.
Mr Shand is understood to have slipped on the pavement outside an after-party after attending a charity auction at Sotheby’s. Princess Eugenie was also at the event at the time.
Tuesday evening was to be the finale of the month-long Big Egg Hunt NYC event by Fabergé, at which celebrity egg sculptures were being auctioned, with proceeds going to an underprivileged children’s charity and Mr. Shand’s The Elephant Family.
The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles and all her family are “utterly devastated by this sudden and tragic loss,” said Clarence House, who described Mark Shand as “a man of extraordinary vitality, a tireless campaigner and conservationist whose incredible work through The Elephant Family and beyond remained his focus right up until his death.”
According to royal correspondent Tim Ewart who is a part of the press corps following the royal tour in New Zealand and Australia, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been told of the news as they embark on Day 17 of the tour: “This tour is winding up and sadly, this event is going to cast a shadow over the last couple of days, of what has been a long and so far very successful and very happy tour.”
“Both William and his brother Harry have become very close to The Duchess of Cornwall (…) They were a close family and this statement from Clarence House, using the expression ‘utterly devastated’, applies to all the family. But royal duties here will carry on today, as they were going to before.”
Mr Shand was a conservationist and award-winning author, as well as being the chairman of Elephant Family, a wildlife conservation charity which aims to save the endangered Asian elephant from extinction in the wild.
In 1988, his extensive travels led him to make a 600-mile journey across India on the back of his beloved Tara, the female elephant he rescued off the streets of Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa.
The adventure seeker led a most exciting life, perilously encountering cannibals and crocodiles in Indonesia, becoming a jackaroo in Australia, racing in the London-Sydney motor-race and being shipwrecked in the South Pacific. “Okay, so I haven’t really made any money – but at least I know I’ve lived,” he was known to say.
Passionate as he was about elephants, Mr Shand wrote many books about them, including Queen Of The Elephants, for which he was awarded the 1996 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Prix Litteraire d’Amis. The book was subsequently made into a BBC documentary.
Mr. Shand is survived by his daughter Ayesha, 19, with French actress Clio Goldsmith, his former wife and cousin of Jemima Khan.
His colleagues at Elephant Family expressed their loss in a statement that reads:
“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. We ask at this time that people’s thoughts are with his loved ones. We will miss him always.”
Camilla and Prince Charles have been in Scotland preparing for their next engagement, a three-day tour of Canada in May. Flying on May 18, the pair are due to take part in events marking the centenary of World War One.