LONDON: The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have led tributes to their close friend Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, who has died at the age of 45. The royal couple said they were “deeply saddened and our thoughts are with the family” after the former socialite was found dead just months after revealing she had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Palmer-Tomkinson said in November that she was being treated for a non-malignant growth in her pituitary gland and had expressed fears that she would die. She was diagnosed with the tumour last January after she returned from a ski trip and was also suffering from an autoimmune disease which had caused tiredness, joint pain and acute anaemia. She was a regular on the London party scene in the 1990s and 2000s and made headlines for her social life, frequently appearing in the pages of both society and celebrity magazines. During her years in the spotlight, she was a newspaper columnist and television personality but also battled a high-profile cocaine addiction. Despite being famed for her hard partying and exhibitionist streak, Palmer-Tomkinson and her family were close friends of the Royal Family and she attended the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011. She appeared on reality TV series I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! in 2002 and came second to DJ Tony Blackburn.
In 2014, she said she had become a recluse after suffering a nervous breakdown and spoke about her battle with drug addiction on ITV show Jeremy Kyle: The Celebrity Specials. She broke down in tears as she recalled the night she nearly died from an overdose during her battle with cocaine addiction. She eventually quit drugs following a 35-day stint in an Arizona rehab clinic. Her father Charles was a former British Olympic skier who instructed Prince Charles and, in 1988, her mother Patti was skiing in the Swiss Alps with the Prince when their party was hit by an avalanche which killed the Queen’s former equerry, Major Hugh Lindsay, and left Palmer-Tomkinson with serious leg injuries. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Police were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 13:40hrs on Wednesday, February 8, to an address in Bramham Gardens, SW5. “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.” Palmer-Tomkinson’s body was removed from her home on a trolley into a private ambulance and driven away. Socialite and reality TV star Tamara Beckwith said in a statement: “The terribly sad news of my old friend Tara PT’s passing has come as quite a shock. “She was a shining light and I have nothing but very fond memories of the times we had together. She was most definitely one of life’s true characters.”