The Prince of Wales has said he is “deeply saddened” at the death of family friend Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, socialite and celebrity, who was found dead at her London flat aged 45.
The former “It girl” and TV personality, who had appeared on reality shows including I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, revealed just three months ago that she had been receiving treatment for a brain tumour – a non-malignant growth in her pituitary gland.
Her death was being treated as unexplained. A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said officers were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 1.40pm on Wednesday to a south London address.
“A woman, aged in her 40s, was pronounced dead at the scene. At this early stage the death is being treated as unexplained. We are not treating this death as suspicious. The coroner has been informed and the next of kin has been informed.”
The one-time model was the daughter of former British Olympic skier and landowner Charles Palmer-Tomkinson, a close friend of Prince Charles, and his wife Patti. Her older sister, author Santa Montefiore, is married to historian and novelist Simon Sebag-Montefiore.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall said they were “deeply saddened and our thoughts are so much with the family”.
Revealing details of her tumour in November, Palmer-Tomkinson said: “I went to the doctors to talk about my latest blood tests when I got back from skiing in January. I said ‘What does this mean? Can you translate it?’ And the doctor said: ‘As I suspected, you have a brain tumour.’’’
She added: “I got terribly frightened. I started thinking ‘I’m going to die, I’m going to die. I’ve only got a couple of weeks to live’. Stuff like that.”
She said in the interview that she had been taking medication and, “thankfully, it seems to have gone away for now”.
During a colourful life she was a regular face on the London party scene during the 1990s, frequently making headlines and appearing in the pages of society and celebrity magazines. In 2002 she appeared on the reality TV series I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! coming second to DJ Tony Blackburn. She also appeared on other reality shows, including a celebrity special of Blind Date and A Place in the Sun.
A former model, she was close to young members of the royal family, attending the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.
She had contributed columns to several publications, including the Sunday Times, the Spectator and Tatler, and released her first novel, The Inheritance, in 2010.
She spoke candidly about her well-documented battle with drugs. She was first treated for cocaine addiction in 1999 and her septum nasi collapsed due to her habit. She told the Sun last year: “I haven’t done drugs for 10 years” and said she was now “a bit obsessed with healthy eating”.
In one interview, she told talk show host Jeremy Kyle that she had almost died after taking an overdose of cocaine.
In recent years she spoke of struggling with anxiety, which had seen her turn into a “recluse”.
The Brain Tumour charity praised Palmer-Tomkinson for raising awareness of the disease. Sarah Lindsell, the chief executive, said: “Our hearts go out to all of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s family and friends. Three months ago Tara was brave enough to speak out about her brain tumour diagnosis and the impact it had on her life.
“Her honesty helped to raise awareness of the disease and it was welcomed by the many thousands of people in the UK and around the world who cope with the impact of a brain tumour. Tara helped to show why we must do all we can to defeat this devastating disease which is the biggest cancer killer of children and young people in the UK.”
Among tributes, TV presenter Piers Morgan tweeted: “A fun, feisty woman who battled many demons. Very sad news.”
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