Camilla pays tribute to brother with Rabindranath Tagore poem

Memorial service for Mark Shand, who died suddenly in April after falling and hitting his head in New York, was held in London on Thursday

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, wife of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, movingly remembered her brother Mark Shand at a memorial service for him on Thursday by reading out a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Farewell My Friends’. This was followed by music composed by Ravi Shankar.

Mark Shand
Mark Shand

Shand, a conservationist, had worked tirelessly during his life to protect the dwindling population of Indian elephants.
The 62-year-old, who was also a travel writer, died suddenly in April after falling and hitting his head in New York. Members of his family, including Camilla and the Prince of Wales, were joined by figures from the worlds of politics, fashion, conservation and film, to remember him at St Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge, central London.

Camilla and Prince Charles
In Memoriam: Camilla and Prince Charles attend a memorial service for Mark Shand at St Paul’s Church in London on Thursday. Pics/Gettyimages

Speaking for the first time in public about her brother since his death, the Duchess chose Nobel laureate Tagore’s poem to recall her memory of him.

Tagore was not the only Indian element in the service. It had plenty of Indian influences — sitar players, elephant images and a sprinkling of close Indian friends, among them Princess Uma of Moorvi and Priya Hiranandani Vandevala, wife of Cyrus Vandrevala.

The Vandrevalas, London-based billionaires, were among the biggest donors to Shand’s Elephant Family charity. They spoke warmly of his greatest work — the conservation of Indian elephants.

Shand’s daughter Ayesha was named after the Maharani of Jaipur.

Jemima Khan, former wife of Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and cousin of Shand’s ex-wife, was also present in the congregation.

The church was decked out with colourful garlands and even plants were made to look like elephants in recognition of his love for wildlife and India. Camilla led the tributes, reading the touching words of Tagore’s Farewell My Friends.

Music composed by the legendary Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar was played immediately after Camilla’s reading.

The elephant family

Elephant Family’s aim was to preserve the Indian elephant by helping them to live in harmony with India’s rapidly growing population. He created “elephant corridors” for the animals to move along without disturbing villagers.
A spokesman for Elephant Family paid tribute to Shand, saying: ‘Mark Shand was Asia’s elephants’ greatest champion.’

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