The brother-in-law of Prince Charles, Mark Shand, has died after an accident that occurred on Tuesday outside of a New York nightclub. Reports are that he slipped and fell while lighting a cigarette, hitting his head. Shand, 62, is the brother of the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, who is the wife of Prince Charles.
Although Shand was once known for being a playboy and seeker of adventure who was kicked out of Dorset’s Milton Abbey School for smoking marijuana, he also tried his hand at being a rally driver and a bobsled star. He is said to have had romantic relationships with Lee Radziwill, the sister of Jackie Onassis, Bianca Jagger, and Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Onassis. After his expulsion from school, his father sent him to Australia. It was when he stopped off in India that he fell in love with the elephants , which led to him becoming well-known in later life for his conservation efforts to keep the Asian elephant from becoming extinct.
He founded his own charity, Elephant Family, after riding his own elephant, Tara, across the country of India. Shand appeared in documentaries and wrote several books which contained India and elephants as common themes. His book, Queen Of The Elephants, received a Thomas Cook Travel Book Award in 1996, was awarded the Prix Litteraire d’Amis and became a documentary for BBC.
It is thought that Shand was outside lighting a cigarette when he fell. He was at the Diamond Horseshoe club for an after party following an auction at Sotheby’s in New York to benefit Elephant Family and a charity for underprivileged children. The event marked the end of the Big Egg Hunt NYC by Faberge, which had lasted for one month. The auction was held to sell egg sculptures, and raised $1.6 million for the charities. Princess Eugenie was also on hand for the festivities. After the fall, Shand was taken to a hospital in New York with head injuries.
The official home of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Clarence House, has issued a statement saying, “The duchess, the Prince of Wales and all her family members are utterly devastated by this sudden and tragic loss.” An Elephant Family spokesman stated, “Today we have lost the head of our family. Mark Shand was a true force for conservation.”
Shand married a former actress from France, Clio Goldsmith, in 1990. The couple have one child, a daughter named Ayesha. The married man and father had recently found himself answering to rumors that he was having an affair with the ex-girlfriend of a former England football manager. He described the woman, Nancy Dell’Olio, as a “remarkable character” that he knew through his charity work and denied that any improper relationship existed between the two.
Shand was the younger and only brother of the Duchess of Cornwall, who married Prince Charles on April 9, 2005. They were first wed during a low-key civil ceremony, which was followed by a larger event at Windsor Castle. The couple is preparing to tour Canada next month. There has been no word on whether the death of Mark Shand in New York will cause them to postpone or cancel their plans.
By Jennifer Pfalz