Image: (FILE) Mark Shand, Brother Of The Duchess of Cornwall, Suffers Serious Head Injury
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TODAY   |  April 24, 2014

Royals ‘devastated’ by death of Camilla’s brother

The royal family reacts to the tragic death of Prince Charles’ brother-in-law, Mark Shand, after a freak fall in New York. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.

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>>> we begin this half hour with a tragic story, a death that has devastated the royal family . prince charles ' brother-in-law died in a freak accident here in new york . we'll go to buckingham palace for more on that. good morning to you.

>> reporter: hey, matt, good morning. prince charles and camilla are in scotland right now. they issued a statement saying she is devastated. her brother was one of those who could move effortlessly among british and american royalty. he was friends with the kennedys and for example the queen's granddaughter was at that very party in that new york prior to his unexpected death. he was camilla 's fun loving younger brother . while you may not have heard on him on new york and london's party scene he was renowned. a dashing young man in the 1970s romantically linked to caroline kennedy , friends with the super models of that era. but it was in india he found his life's passion, elephants, campaigning through the rest of his life to protect them. he hosted an auction at sotheby's tuesday raising nearly $2 million for his elephant charity. while celebrating at new york 's fashionable rose bar he went out for a cigarette at 3:00 a.m ., slipped, and sustained a fatal head injury. he died at manhattan's bellevue hospital . william and kate in us an trail said they were saddened by the news. he was fiercely protective of his sister camilla and never spoke of her relationship with prince charles .

>> he was deeply loyal to her. she always went to him with her problems. i think what really helped was that prince charles also valued his opinions.

>> reporter: in a statement they said the duchess and prince of wales and all her family members are utterly devastated by the sudden and tragic loss. he was a tireless campaigner and conservationist. this morning the photographer bruce weber described him as an amazing guy. he was like the premier rebel bad boy of england, he said, who just happened to love elephants and beautiful women. and everyone in turn loved him. he was something of a playboy and a gossip but he never gossiped about his sister even during those very, very difficult years, those diana years where camilla was effectively the other woman he never said anything about it. i bet he's taken some stories with him, matt.

>> absolutely. he raised $2 million in that charity auction of those eggs. some of the eggs we have right on our plaza here that have been decorated by various artists . again, our condolences on a sudden death .