Poignant way Duchess of Cornwall ensures memory of her brother lives on

MUMBAI, INDIA - NOVEMBER 1, 2008:  British travel writer and conservationist Mark Shand. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
British travel writer and conservationist Mark Shand, here in 2008, who died in 2014. (Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

As a member of the Royal Family, the Duchess of Cornwall spends her time raising awareness of issues that she is passionate about.

One cause that she has focussed much of her time on recently is particularly close to her heart, because it represents her late brother.

Mark Shand died in April 2014 in New York City, at the age of 62.

He fell on a pavement in Manhattan after a dinner party and though medics tried to save him, he died after suffering a head injury.

The sudden death on the other side of the world left Camilla and her family "utterly devastated".

As the duchess prepares to mark her 74th birthday, she is ensuring her brother's memory is kept alive in the work that she does with his charity, Elephant Family, and through her own royal work.

Read more: 13 photos that prove Sir David Attenborough is a Royal Family BFF

On her reading room Instagram channel, the duchess read from Shand's book Travels on my Elephant, sharing his story of saying goodbye to an elephant, including a moment when the elephant shed a single tear as he departed for the last time.

The reading occurred as a big project with the Elephant Family came to an end.

Camilla and her husband Prince Charles are joint presidents of Elephant Family, which was founded by Shand.

For several weeks, life-sized elephant sculptures, made of an invasive weed called lantana, have been moving through London to encourage people to think about how humans and animals can coexist after the pandemic.

For the grand finale, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall hosted a party, inviting 280 guests to enjoy 'A Starry Night In The Nilgiri Hills', an outdoor event at Lancaster House.

Guests were entertained by singer Katherine Jenkins and Charles spoke about the work of the CoExistence project, which was in collaboration with the British Asian Trust, which he founded.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrive to attend the
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at the 'A Starry Night In The Nilgiri Hills' event hosted by the Elephant Family. (Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
PONTYCLUN, WALES - JULY 07: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Llanerch Vineyard on July 07, 2021 in Pontyclun, Wales. The Duchess has been President of Wines GB since 2011, of which the Llanerch vineyard is a member. Owner of Llanerch, geologist and entrepreneur Ryan Davies renovated the building and first opened to the public in July 2011. During the pandemic, Llanerch made a local farm shop delivery service. It launched overnight and helped the local community during the difficult time. The Duchess first tried Cariad wines when she visited Pendoylan and it was awarded the best kept village in Wales in the 90's. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla at Llanerch Vineyard in July 2021 in Pontyclun, Wales. She turns 74 on Saturday. (Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Read more: Prince Charles praises Marcus Rashford over 'extraordinary work' for young people

The party featured a screening under canvas of The Day the Earth Changed, narrated by Royal Family friend David Attenborough.

About a dozen of the more than 100 life-sized elephants were auctioned off on the night, while many others have already been sold. With £2m made from the pieces, more are being made in the hope of raising more money for projects which help people and animals live side by side.

Camilla referenced her brother as she said: "In 2002, my beloved brother, Mark, helped create the charity Elephant Family, to protect Asia's magnificent wildlife.

"Over the past few weeks, Londoners have had the rare opportunity to see some of that wildlife - albeit in static form! - on the Mall, in Green Park, in St James's Park and in Berkeley Square.

"These magnificent, life-sized elephants have roamed - with a little help - from the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India, to the Cotswolds, to the heart of the city to raise awareness of the vital importance of healthy coexistence between humans and animals.

"They are a timely reminder to us all to live well with Nature, wherever we may be."

Some of the sculptures were adopted into Charles and Camilla's home at Highgrove in Gloucestershire last October when the CoExistence project was originally planned for before the pandemic forced it to be put on hold.

Britain's Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall launches a story trail to promote child literacy by model Asian elephants in St James' Park in central London on June 22, 2021. (Photo by Heathcliff O'Malley / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla launched a story trail to promote child literacy in St James' Park in June 2021, linked to her brother's charity. (Heathcliff O'Malley/AFP)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/05/15: Life-size elephant sculptures are displayed in The Mall as part of Coexistence, an environmental art campaign produced by Elephant Family a charity that works to save endangered Asian wildlife from extinction. The charity was founded by The Duchess of Cornwall late brother, Mark Shand. (Photo by Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Life-sized elephant sculptures are displayed in The Mall as part of Coexistence, an environmental art campaign produced by Elephant Family, founded by Shand. (Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Read more: Sarah Ferguson praises Princess Eugenie and Jack for being 'beautiful parents'

At the time, Camilla said: "I think they’re so beautiful and my brother, who founded the charity, I think if he saw all these elephants now scattering across the south-west of England, he’d be so proud.

"When sadly he died, having raised a lot of money for the charity, and my husband and I took it on, I don’t think he would have believed how well it could have [gone]."

The duchess asked friends across the country to take in some of the elephants until the project could go ahead.

She added of the charity: "It’s gone from strength to strength and I’m just really proud to be part of it and that we’ve been able, with the help of Ruth [the charity's principle trustee], who’s absolutely fantastic, to bring it to this level. To have these elephants here is so special."

Camilla also linked the elephant trail to another of her charities, the National Literacy Trust. Back in June, she joined schoolchildren at St James's Park and read Elmer to them.

Remembering Shand in 2015, Camilla told Vanity Fair: "My brother was a larger-than-life character who left a mark on everyone he met.

"I miss him everyday."

Watch: Camilla tells of hay fever struggle as she opens story trail in London