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Mark Shand: The fascinating life of the dashing crusader

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Mark Shand was often to be found holding court at one of his parties, dazzling guests with his aristocratic good looks and stories of his globetrotting travels in equal measure. But the Duchess of Cornwall's brother, who has died aged 62, leaving his big sister "devastated", was so much more than a bon viveur.

© Photo: Rex

Camilla was extremely close to her swashbuckling younger brother

Perhaps one of the reasons Camilla fell in love with Prince Charles is because he reminded her of Mark to whom she was extremely close. Like the Prince of Wales, his interests encompassed Hinduism, Indian culture and conservation. He was also a respected travel writer and was passionate about saving Asian elephants from extinction.

Through his ex-wife Clio, he was connected to one of Britain's most influential and wealthy families. A former actress, she was the niece of the late Sir James Goldsmith. In tribute his daughter, campaigner and socialite Jemima Khan tweeted: "RIP Mark Shand: Best man, godfather to my son & my cousin's ex".

William and Kate express their sadness over Mark Shand's death

© Photo: Rex

His daughter Ayesha was the apple of his eye

Her former husband cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan said he was "shocked" about the loss of one of his "closest English friends".

Before marrying Clio at the age of 40 in 1990 and having a daughter called Ayesha, Mark was linked with some of the world's most desirable beauties. Bianca Jagger, model Marie Helvin and Jackie Kennedy's sister Lee Radziwill and daughter Caroline were all seen on his arm. Sending her condolences to his family, Bianca, the former wife of Mick Jagger, described her friend as "an inspiration and true conservationist".

Mark had reportedly been dating 36-year-old Ruth Powys (right) who is one of twins

In recent years he was said to have been dating 36-year-old Ruth Powys, the CEO of the Elephant Family, a conservation charity he founded.

Despite his connections, he could be relied upon for complete discretion and loyalty, rarely speaking about his royal relatives.

He and Camilla grew up in East Sussex, together with their sister Annabel as the children of decorated war veteran Major Bruce Shand and The Hon Rosalind Cubitt.

Attractive women, such as Nancy Dell' Olio, have always been drawn to him

Mark was expelled from school in Dorset for smoking cannabis. His father thought a stint in Australia would stem his youthful rebelliousness instead he stopped off in India and bought an elephant named Tara. His book about an 800-mile journey across the country on her back was very popular.

In later life he poured his energy into the Elephant Family. Whereas once the parties were in Seventies club Studio 54, Andy Warhol's stomping ground, now they were more sophisticated affairs held to fund conservation efforts. Indeed he died after an auction, which raised almost £1million for his favourite cause.

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