Girlfriend: I comforted dying Mark

Bicester Advertiser: The Duchess of Cornwall is shown an elephant sculpture designed in the style of a London taxi by her brother Mark Shand The Duchess of Cornwall is shown an elephant sculpture designed in the style of a London taxi by her brother Mark Shand

A heartbroken friend of the Duchess of Cornwall's brother revealed she placed her hand on his heart to comfort him as he lay dying after a fall on a New York street.

Ruth Powys, chief executive of Mark Shand's Elephant Family charity and his on-off girlfriend, rushed to his bedside at the city's Bellevue Hospital following the freak accident.

Mr Shand, 62, is understood to have slipped while lighting a cigarette and hit his head on the pavement outside a New York hotel bar following a fund-raising event for his charity on Wednesday.

Ms Powys, 36, said yesterday: "Mark was my everything, my inspiration in life. He gave me everything I have, he's everywhere I look," the Daily Mail said.

Describing his final moments, she said: "I had my hand on his heart - he was surrounded by his elephant family."

Mr Shand, a conservationist and travel writer, was in New York for an auction at Sotheby's in aid of a charity for underprivileged children and the Elephant Family, of which he was chairman, which aims to save the endangered Asian elephant from extinction in the wild.

The charity team went for a dinner after the auction, which raised almost £1 million through the sale of special Faberge eggs, and then went on to a party at the Diamond Horseshoe club in the Paramount Hotel.

It was after going for a last drink with a relative at the Rose Bar in the Gramercy Park Hotel that he slipped and fell at about 2.30am, striking his head as he tried to re-enter through a revolving door, according to New York police.

Ms Powys, who was not there when the accident happened, said she had moved to New York after the pair decided to go their separate ways, the Mail said.

She said: "We were trying to separate, it was such a difficult thing to do to try and move on. He wanted me to find someone my own age."

Her twin sister Mary, who also works for the charity, has travelled to the US support her.

Ms Powys said: "I'm with Mary and the whole of his Elephant Family are together right now and we're all remembering him with so much love affection and love. I can't believe we've lost him. my work now is to continue his legacy."

The Duchess of Cornwall was said to be "utterly devastated" by her brother's death.

It was reported that her son, Tom Parker Bowles, and her nephew, Ben Elliot, flew out to New York to bring Mr Shand's body back home.

Camilla and the Prince of Wales, who are preparing for a high-profile tour of Canada next month, are believed to have received the bad news at their Birkhall home in Scotland.

A Clarence House spokesman said: "The Duchess, the Prince of Wales and all her family members are utterly devastated by this sudden and tragic loss.

"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."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also spoke of their sadness and passed on their sympathies to Camilla from their tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Socialite Barbara Allen Kwiatowska, with whom Mr Shand had been staying in New York for the last six months, was heartbroken to hear of his death, The Sun said.

Ms Kwiatowska said: "I've known Mark 40 years - he's always been a big part of my life. he was such a good-looking, funny man, totally devoted to his elephants."

Nancy Dell'Olio, the former wife of ex-England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and a friend of Mr Shand, told the newspaper: "I'm totally shocked and devastated. He was such a wonderful man with a wicked sense of humour. As a man and a humanitarian he will be sadly missed."

Mr Shand, Camilla's only brother, wrote numerous books and featured in documentaries, with elephants and India as recurring themes.

He was romantically linked to the likes of Bianca Jagger, Jackie Onassis's sister Lee Radziwill and Jackie's daughter, Caroline Kennedy.

In 1990 he married former French actress Clio Goldsmith, the niece of billionaire entrepreneur Sir James Goldsmith and the cousin of Jemima Khan and Tory MP Zac Goldsmith.

The couple, who split in 2009, have a daughter together called Ayesha.

Camilla's son, Tom Parker Bowles, expressed thanks for the tributes paid to his "late, great" uncle.

He tweeted: "A massive thank you for everyone's lovely words about our late, great uncle Mark Shand. Deeply appreciated."

Ben Elliot described Mr Shand as his "hero".

"RIP my hero and uncle Mark Shand. We loved him so much. What a life," he wrote on Twitter, posting a photo of his baby son on Mr Shand's shoulders.

He added: "Mark did so much for the plight of the Asian elephant. Elephants never forget. Nor will we."

Camilla, who is on her Easter break, has no public engagements over the next week or so, but on Monday the Prince of Wales is still scheduled to visit Ballater Caravan Park in the village of Ballater on Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire, just a few miles from his Scottish retreat Birkhall.

The couple are due to begin their busy four-day tour of Canada on May 18, visiting three provinces - Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba.

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