Heartbreaking reason Camilla was so moved by orphaned baby elephants

The heartbreaking reason why Camilla was so moved when she fed an orphaned baby elephant just a few days ago

  • Queen Camilla’s brother, Mark Shand, died in April 2014 in New York
  • He was known for his passion for supporting elephants and Asian wildlife
  • For all the latest Royal news, pictures and videos click here

Queen Camilla seemed in her element as she bottle-fed a baby elephant just a few days ago.

Of course, she’s known for her love of wildlife horses in particular. But elephants have a special place for The Queen as they were close to the heart of her late brother, Mark Shand.

Camilla, 76, had been watching a herd of orphaned elephants playing at a specialist wildlife centre near Nairobi on Wednesday, November 1. The King and Queen had been taking part in their recent state visit to Kenya.

Later, she fed a one-year-old calf called Mzinga, one of the youngest at the centre. 

Queen Camilla seemed in her element as she fed a baby elephant milk from a bottle during a visit to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, on the outskirts of Nairobi

The protection of elephants is a cause close to Camilla’s heart – and no wonder. Her late brother Mark Shand, pictured, was passionate about protecting wildlife, and the Asian elephant in particular

Mark Shand and Camilla visit to the Elephant Parade exhibition at Chelsea Hospital Gardens,  in June 2010

‘They look very content, very happy,’ she remarked.

With poaching – and the killing of adult elephants – still a scourge, there are far too many such orphans, of course. 

Her brother Mark Shand, who died in 2014, had been passionate about protecting and supporting elephants and Asian wildlife and devoted much of his life to the cause.

He was actively involved in the conservation of the Asian elephant, in particular, and co-founded a wildlife conservation charity called Elephant Family in 2003.

The charity supports a wide range of projects that find ways for humans and animals to live closer together – from securing a network of wildlife corridors which act as bridges between islands of forests, to relocating busy roads that slice through  forest.

It was following an Elephant Family event that Camilla’s brother fell and, unfortunately, suffered a fatal head injury. 

He had been  in New York to host a Sotheby’s auction of egg sculptures decorated by leading artists in aid of the charity and underprivileged children.

The event, attended by Princess Eugenie, had already raised nearly £1million, and was followed by an after-party at the exclusive Diamond Horseshoe club off Times Square.

Mark reportedly stepped out for a cigarette after leaving the Rose Bar of the Gramercy Park Hotel, tripped and fell backwards onto the pavement.

The conservationist was taken to the nearby Bellevue Hospital and put on a life support machine but died from his head injuries around nine hours later.

Camilla was said to be devastated by the news – she had been extremely close to her only brother.

 Camilla, sister Annabel Elliot and brother Mark Shand visit the Elephant Parade in June 2010

Mark Shand and Prince Charles at the memorial service for Mark and Camilla’s father, Major Bruce Shand, at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge, in September 2006

Mark’s book, Travels on My Elephant became a bestseller and won the Travel Writer of the Year Award at the British Book Awards in 1992

A statement released by Clarence House regarding Mark’s death said: ‘It is with deep sadness that we have to confirm that The Duchess of Cornwall’s brother, Mark Shand, has today passed away.

‘Mark Shand was 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.’

Discussing her brother’s death in a piece for The Times, Camilla later described how, on the day she learnt of his passing, the morning had started normally ‘and all seemed well until the shrill ring of the telephone broke the magic’.

She wrote: ‘An anguished voice on the other end told me that something terrible had happened to my brother; my indestructible brother, Mark. Surely nothing could have happened to him?

‘He was in New York raising money for his beloved elephants, but an unfamiliar pavement had claimed his all-too-short life following a hugely successful auction for ‘The Elephant Family’, a charity he co-founded in 2002.

‘My charismatic and sometimes infuriating brother, who had survived tsunamis, shipwrecks, poisoned arrows and even the fearsome Komodo dragons, was no longer with us.’

Mark Roland Shand was born on June 28, 1951, the son of Major Bruce Shand and his wife, Rosalind Cubitt. He was also the brother of Queen Camilla and Annabel Elliot.

Shand was educated at St Ronan’s School in Kent and then Milton Abbey School in Dorset. However, he was expelled from Milton Abbey for allegedly smoking cannabis.

As a result, his father sent him to Australia to make a living on his own, where he had numerous jobs. He later returned to London and worked as a porter at Sotheby’s.

He earned a playboy reputation as a young man when he was a regular at New York nightclub Studio 54. He is supposed to have once said it reminded him of ‘the end of the Roman Empire’.

Rosalind Shand pictured with her three children, Mark, Camilla and baby Annabel in June 1952

A 27-year-old Mark pictured with Bianca Jagger in his younger days 

Mark at the launch party for Marie Helvin’s book Catwalk with the author in 1985

Over the years, Shand was linked to former President John F Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, to Bianca Jagger and he proposed unsuccessfully to model Marie Helvin.

A trip to India in 1988 would change his life forever.

It was here that he bought a neglected elephant called Tara and rode her 800 miles from the Bay of Bengal to Patna on the Ganges, later chronicled in his book Travels On My Elephant.

Travels on My Elephant became a bestseller and won the Travel Writer of the Year Award at the British Book Awards in 1992.

He was featured in a number of documentaries for the BBC and the National Geographic Channel, most of which centred on the survival of elephants.

In 1990, Shand married Clio Goldsmith, a French former model and actress. 

It was never a conventional marriage and they were often apart because of the charity work which took Mark to India so often.

At the same time Clio and their daughter Ayesha, who was born in 1995, spent much of their time in Rome to be close to Clio’s elder daughter, Talitha, from her first marriage to Pirelli heir, Carlo Puri.

However, their family returned to London in 2008, with the pair divorcing in 2010, but remaining good friends.

A trip to India in 1988 would change Mark’s life forever

Mark Shand and Clio Goldsmith at the wedding of  his nephew Tom Parker Bowles and Sara Buys in Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshre, September 2005

The Queen’s brother with his daughter Aysha and wife Clio Shand in Mumbai,  November 2008 

Mark Shand and his daughter Ayesha at Quintessentially, London, in January 2012

He was a loyal brother, devoted to both Camilla and his younger sister Annabel. He would never speak of his siblings – unless it was to defend them.

Mark had been one of Queen Camilla’s few remaining connections with the real world. He lived fairly modestly and simply in a Bayswater flat.

It helped that he very much liked his brother-in-law, the Prince of Wales .

‘They had two things in common – they loved elephants (for Mark it was the Asian variety for Charles it is the African species) and they both loved Camilla,’ a family friend told the Daily Mail’s Richard Eden.

2014 seemed set to be a golden year.  

Mark Shand was awarded the title Conservationist of the Year and received the Fragile Rhino award of The Perfect World Foundation at the Conservation Gala Dinner Save The Rhino in Gothenburg, Sweden.

He was expected to attend as a guest of honour. But tragedy struck first.

Shand was involved in the conservation of the Asian elephant and co-founded a wildlife conservation charity, Elephant Family, in 2003

Camilla and Charles at the funeral of Mark Shand at Holy Trinity Church in Stourpaine in May, 2014

Ayesha Shand, Princess Eugenie, Elephant Family CEO Ruth Powys and Nicholas Coleridge at the opening night of Conservation Couture: The Animal Ball Collection in aid of Elephant Family in October 2016

Following his death, it was the Queen’s son Tom Parker Bowles and nephew Ben Elliot, the son of Camilla’s sister Annabel Elliot, who travelled to New York to make arrangements to bring his body home.

Around 180 people attended Mark’s funeral in the Dorset village of Stourpaine. Mourners were asked not to dress in black.

At the time, his daughter Ayesha said: ‘I didn’t want 400 people dressed in black crying. I wanted people to have a good time. 

‘It was spring and there were flowers, and we had an Indian tent and I wanted everyone in purple and green and Indian colours.’

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