Ayesha Shand: 11 Facts About Queen Camilla's Niece And Her Relationship With The Royal Family

Ayesha Shand, born in 1994, holds a unique position as the niece of Camilla, Queen Consort. Her mother is actress Clio Goldsmith and her father was conservationist Mark Shand, Camilla's brother. Growing up, Ayesha developed a profound connection to elephants, fostered by her late father, a devoted philanthropist. She has even recalled being given her first elephant by her father, telling the Tatler, "I was really excited — thinking maybe [the pet] was a dog ... And he said, 'No, actually, I've got you an elephant.'" This early bond with the majestic creatures laid the foundation for her lifelong commitment to elephant conservation.

Beyond her royal connections, Ayesha has carved her path in the art world, acting as the Associate Director at Hauser & Wirth, an esteemed art gallery. Despite her connection to the royal family, Ayesha doesn't often appear in the news or the tabloids. With her blend of royal heritage, passion for conservation, and involvement in the art community, Ayesha Shand is a fascinating person. Here are facts about the royal niece.

Ayesha's name holds special meaning

At first blush, Ayesha Shand appears to be named after the Indian princess of Jaipur. For Ayesha's father, Mark Shand, this is exactly the story of Ayesha's name. It a nod to his wide travels and her royal lineage. However, for Clio Goldsmith, Ayesha's mother, the name held a deeper meaning. For Goldsmith, the name is literary, based on H. Rider Haggard's 1887 novel, "She, A History of Adventure." In the imperialist, gothic novel, Ayesha is depicted as a powerful figure; a mysterious, 2,000-year-old white queen ruling over a lost kingdom in Africa.

The circumstances surrounding Ayesha's birth were marked by challenges and isolation. Goldsmith recalled the experience, telling Vanity Fair that it was "very dark, very miserable, very isolated. Mark set off traveling, and I was alone with this baby. I had had a terrible birth, so I had to be operated on. And I was very traumatized." 

Alone with her newborn baby, Goldsmith faced the aftermath of her traumatic birth, grappling with the emotional toll of her experiences. Perhaps this traumatic birth has something to do with why she resonated with the name Ayesha, the embodiment of a woman in a position of power in a faraway land unfamiliar to the new mother. Through her name and her journey, Ayesha embodies a blend of history, literature, and resilience.

Ayesha grew up in Rome

Ayesha's childhood was a whirlwind of adventure and cultural exploration, largely spent in the vibrant city of Rome. Clio Goldsmith, Ayesha's mother, described her decision to move to Rome to Vanity Fair, saying, "One day I decided I've got to react ... [Mark Shand had] been months away, so I wrote him a note that said, 'Gone to live in Rome with Ayesha. If you want to join us, here's the plane ticket.'" The family went on to live in Rome for seven years before returning to London in 2008.

Growing up as an only child, Ayesha's upbringing was characterized by chaos and constant movement. Her father, Mark Shand, a renowned adventurer and traveler, was frequently away on his expeditions, leaving behind a family. "Dad would come back with chests full of gifts from different lands and Mum's Eastern sculptures were everywhere. It was like a treasure trove — our house was a souk," Ayesha described to The Telegraph.

After returning to London with their daughter, Clio Goldsmith and Mark Shand's marriage was not destined to withstand, and they divorced shortly after their return. Ayesha reflected on her parent's divorce, telling The Telegraph, "My parents had outlived their love — I think it was too colorful and wild for real life — it was something out of a novel, a film." Ayesha's upbringing shaped her perspective and instilled in her a love for adventure that continues to influence her life to this day.

Her father once tricked her into attending a bootcamp

At the age of 17, Ayesha Shand did what most teenagers do; rebelled against her parents in a bid for independence. The teen moved out of her family home and dyed her hair bleach blonde to prove her autonomy. However, her father, the adventurous Mark Shand, had a mischievous plan up his sleeve to teach his daughter a valuable lesson.

In an attempt to mend their strained relationship after a disagreement, Mark orchestrated a cunning ruse. He brought Ayesha to what she thought would be a luxurious, restorative spa retreat, only to find herself thrust into the rigorous regimen of a boot camp. Recalling her entrance into the spa, Ayesha told The Telegraph, "I arrived — super-spoilt — at a red-brick house that looked a bit basic, in Norfolk ... I was in my designer gym gear, and this man shouted, 'Get on the floor! Give me 50!' I said, 'You want £50 right now? You want a huge tip?'"

Thrown into the midst of discipline, Ayesha initially protested activities like running through mud. However, as the reality of the situation dawned on her, she begrudgingly participated in the activities set forth for her by the former soldiers who ran the boot camp. Reflecting on the experience, Ayesha now laughs at the memory, saying, "I hated him." She admits, however, that she harbors no ill will, telling The Telegraph, "I know he was just trying to get me back in some way."

She is a conservationist, just like her father

Ayesha Shand, daughter of the late philanthropist Mark Shand, is following in her father's footsteps as a passionate conservationist and advocate for wildlife protection. Ayesha recalled her first recollections of this lifelong passion, telling the Tatler, "​​My first memory of elephants is my dad sitting me down and telling me that he had bought me a pet."

Now, Ayesha is actively involved in initiatives aimed at raising awareness about wildlife conservation through her foundation, The Elephant Family, particularly focusing on coexistence strategies in India. Reflecting on her father's legacy, Ayesha emphasizes the importance of continuing his work. "When he passed away I became much more involved because I wanted to continue his legacy — all the work he did was so important and I wanted to make sure that was continued," she told the Tatler.

Ayesha is continuing her father's work with the same passion that he held for the animals, saying, "They're almost like my children. I've got all these photos and videos of them on my phone." For her, conservation is not just about protecting nature but also about celebrating its beauty and eccentricity. The Elephant Family also happens to be a family affair, since Ayesha's aunt, Camilla, Queen Consort, and King Charles III are both joint presidents of the charity. Of this, Ayesha told the Daily Mail, "'[Camilla] is amazing — she's so involved with the charity."

Ayesha also does other philanthropic work with her family

Ayesha Shand, known for her conservation efforts with Elephant Family, also engages in philanthropic work alongside her family, furthering the legacy of her late father, Mark Shand. In collaboration with her cousin, artist Alice Irwin, Ayesha initiated the project "My Dear New Friend" in 2020, aiming to combat loneliness among the elderly that occurred as a result of the numerous COVID-19 lockdowns.

Irwin told the Daily Mail the story of how the charity came about, saying, "It all started when lockdown began and I was trying to get my two children to do something." It turned out that writing letters to the elderly wasn't possible due to data protection laws; however, Irwin and Shand found a simple solution. "I realized that if the children addressed it to My Dear New Friend, there's nothing that would stop us writing. The children wrote and I got a call from the care home saying it had brought unbridled joy," said Irwin.

Ayesha eventually became involved as well. "I started helping with the Instagram side of it," she told the Daily Mail. "Then I started contacting some friends and telling them about the initiative. They all thought it was such an amazing idea." The initiative gained momentum as more people became involved, spreading through word of mouth and social media. By fostering connections across generations, "My Dear New Friend" not only combats loneliness but also helps children learn empathy and understanding.

Ayesha works in the art world

Ayesha Shand, daughter of the late explorer Mark Shand and niece of Camilla, Queen Consort, is a career woman. With a master's degree in art history from the University of Edinburgh and a job working in an art gallery, Ayesha's passion for the arts was cultivated from a young age. Speaking of how she was inspired to pursue the art field, Ayesha told The Telegraph, "We'd spend our holidays in town markets and I was taken along like the extra suitcase. My mum and dad would say, 'Stay here for six hours — we'll be back,' and I'd be left to wander. I always ended up buying figurines of animals and weird stuff."

A straight-A student at Edinburgh University, Ayesha's academic excellence and artistic inclination paved the way for her career in the art industry. Ayesha is currently serving as an Associate Director at the prestigious Hauser & Wirth art gallery in Mayfair. Ayesha uses her connections in the art world to drive her philanthropic efforts forward, specifically with the Elephant Family, an organization founded by her father. Her creative contributions to the organization's initiatives reflect her commitment to using art as a vehicle for social impact and conservation awareness.

Ayesha has a close relationship with Princess Eugenie

Ayesha Shand shares a close bond with Princess Eugenie, daughter of Prince Andrew, working alongside her at the prestigious Hauser & Wirth art gallery in Mayfair. Their relationship extends beyond professional collaboration, with Ayesha finding solace and support from Eugenie during challenging times, such as when her father, conservationist Mark Shand, passed away in 2014.

Princess Eugenie, who has been the Director of the same contemporary art gallery that Shand works at since 2015, has forged a path in the art world, leveraging her degree in English and art history from Newcastle University. Alongside her sister, Princess Beatrice, Eugenie is part of the royal family's transition into the working world, balancing royal responsibilities with her career aspirations. Ayesha, slightly more removed from the royal lineage, did not have to face the same decision between career and royal responsibilities, instead balancing her career with her philanthropic work. The two women share a professional and personal friendship that illustrates the strength of their bond.

Camilla, Queen Consort, helped Ayesha cope with her father's death

Camilla, Queen Consort, played a pivotal role in helping Ayesha Shand cope with the devastating loss of her father, Mark Shand. The philanthropist, who was Camilla's brother, tragically lost his life in an accident while in New York for a charitable auction. In an interview, Ayesha expressed her deep gratitude for Camilla's unwavering presence, telling the Daily Mail, "She has been incredible in being there for me, not only personally but also in maintaining my father's legacy and being there for him." Ayesha continued speaking about Camilla's role in maintaining Mark's conservation efforts, stating, "I couldn't be more grateful. It does help with the grieving process. All of these things keep his memory alive, which is so important."

Reflecting on her brother's death, Camilla shared her anguish with Vanity Fair, writing in an email, "My brother was a larger-than-life character who left a mark on everyone he met. I miss him every day." Despite the profound loss, Ayesha displayed remarkable resilience in a 2015 interview with Vanity Fair, stating, "In my opinion it was his time to go, as much as that seems really odd. Dad lived an extraordinary life, but he was never truly satisfied." She went on to say, "He would have hated to be an old man. He would have hated to sit by a fire, grumbling, bored, his life without adventure."

Ayesha didn't let anyone in the royal family wear black at her father's funeral

In 2014, Ayesha Shand underwent the devastatingly challenging task of orchestrating her father's funeral. Her father, Mark Shand, was a lively and passionate person, and Ayesha was determined to give him the farewell that he deserved. In order to do this, Ayesha did not allow anyone, including royal attendees, to wear black to her father's funeral, ensuring his funeral was a celebration of life rather than a somber affair. She told The Telegraph, "I didn't want 400 people dressed in black crying. I wanted people to have a good time. It was spring and there were flowers, and we had an Indian tent and I wanted everyone in purple and green and Indian colors."

Queen Camilla honored this request by donning polka dots. The funeral was a testament to Mark Shand's profound connection with India, particularly exemplified by his bond with an Asian elephant named Tara. Ayesha fondly recalls the extraordinary relationship shared between her father and Tara, telling The Telegraph, "They were like brother and sister — I've never seen anything like it." Despite the profound loss felt by all, Ayesha's decision to infuse the funeral with color and joy encapsulated her father's zest for life and adventure. Through this unique tribute, she ensured that Mark Shand's legacy would endure, not in mourning, but in the vibrant memories of those who cherished him.

Ayesha was diagnosed with endometriosis

Ayesha Shand, niece of Camilla, Queen Consort, opened up about her battle with endometriosis, shedding light on the debilitating effects of this often misunderstood condition. In a candid Instagram post and accompanying video, Shand revealed the harsh realities she faces every month. "This is what endometriosis looks and feels like," she wrote in her caption. " It's isolating, agonizing and completely unbearable." Endometriosis, affecting 1 in 10 people who menstruate, is notoriously challenging to diagnose and treat. There is currently no known cure, although symptoms can be treated. Many sufferers endure the cycle of pain silently, highlighting the urgent need for increased recognition and support for those affected. 

"Every month, I ingest hundreds of painkillers, faint, vomit, spend nights and days crouched on the floor crying. This is all followed by intense waves of helplessness and depression," Shand's Instagram caption continued. Despite her persistent pain, Ayesha is adamant about sharing her story, aiming to raise awareness for endometriosis. 

Fortunately for the philanthropist, she can access treatments that many are unable to, including surgery that may offer relief from her relentless symptoms. She acknowledges her fortune in accessing treatment, calling herself "lucky." Ayesha is making the most of her condition, using her platform as an opportunity to advocate for greater understanding and support for all people battling endometriosis. 

She's largely out of the public eye

Ayesha Shand is not often in the royal news or tabloids, despite her connection to the royal family. This is why, after attending King Charles III's coronation in 2023, she playfully joked about her "five seconds of fame." The art gallerist and conservationist shared a snapshot on Instagram where she appeared on the screen during the live broadcast of the ceremony, writing, "Five seconds of fame and serious attitude."

With her role as an Associate Director at an art gallery, Ayesha typically operates behind the scenes, focusing on her career and philanthropic endeavors rather than seeking public attention. Despite her occasional appearances at notable events, she prefers to keep her personal life out of the public eye. Just because she likes to stay out of the spotlight, however, does not mean that she doesn't have fans; in fact, some of her followers took to the comments after her post, one of them writing, "Saw you on the screen and ... screamed lol."