Yesterday evening, as Joint Presidents of Elephant Family, Prince Charles and Camilla hosted a celebrity-filled masquerade reception at Clarence House for the Animal Ball. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall appeared to in excellent spirits as they welcomed the toast of British society to the fundraising event in the opulent rooms of Clarence House.
Charles and Camilla, both sporting matching sparkly black panther masquerade masks, met with the charity’s staff and supporters. These included the Chief Executive of the British Asian Trust, Richard Hawkes, artist Tracy Emin, Richard Booth, Alexa Chung, Yasmin Le Bon, Daisy Lowe, Charlotte Tilbury and fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood.
The theme of the ball was Truman Capote’s Black & White Dance of 1966. This year’s ball will massively benefit Elephant Family’s important conservation work by raising millions of pounds for their vital work.
Prince Charles apologised for not wearing his mask whilst making a speech to welcome guests, and joked: “I know you’re all dying to get across to the other side, have another stiff drink and get on with dinner. I apologise by the way for being improperly dressed – and underdressed – in front of all of you dressed as lobsters and elephants and other interesting species. I do congratulate you, if I may say so, on the enormous effort you’ve made – It is quite remarkable.”
After greeting guests, the couple ventured into the gardens of Clarence House to view life-sized elephant sculptures which had taken over the gardens for the occasion. Charles announced that 100 of the magnificent elephant sculptures would later be placed around the Royal Parks.
He said: “In addition to the herd of elephants currently residing in the garden here at Clarence House […] there are more over the road – all made from an invasive weed, which is the great thing – I’m delighted to announce there will be 100 of these elephants coming to the Royal parks next year to raise £10m we hope, for human wildlife coexistence projects, with tonight’s efforts also counted towards that goal.”
The Animal Ball is London’s most inspired, creative and annual celebration of the animal kingdom. This year’s event, sponsored by the Yoox Net a Porter Group was supported by 26 of the world’s greatest fashion houses, including Anita Dongre, Prada, Missoni, Chloe, Temperley, Ralph Lauren and Sabyasachi. Each fashion house has created bespoke couture animal-themed masks for the beautiful creatures of British society, including masks in the shape of butterflies, birds, leopards and of course, elephants.
The inaugural ball took place in November 2016 in partnership with Selfridges. With support from Their Royal Highnesses, 40 of the world’s top fashion houses, including Burberry, Matthew Williamson, Swarovksi and Chloe, and restaurants, private member clubs and private homes joined together to raise money to help solve human-animal conflict and to secure the future for African and Asian elephants, lions and gorillas.
There were 40 inspired dinners held simultaneously across London, after which all guests made their way to the Ball. It was Europe’s biggest conservation fundraiser, raising £1.7 million for some of the most magnificent and endangered animals on the planet.
Elephant Family is a small, dynamic international charity dedicated to protecting the Asian elephant from extinction in the wild. During the last 50 years the population has roughly halved with around 90% of their habitat having disappeared. Factors that are causing the severe decline in numbers include threats from poaching, as a growing skin trade and demand for wild-caught babies for tourism rises, along with the deadly and escalating conflict between people and elephants for living space resulting in food becoming extremely scarce.
Asia is the most populated and fastest-developing continent on Earth. Due to this, Asia is the region where most animal species face extinction. As human populations expand, natural habitats shrink and as a result humans and animals are increasingly coming into conflict over living space and food. The rapid development of land for use by humans across Asia poses a serious threat to many animal species.
Since 2002 Elephant Family have raised over £10 million through public art events, and have funded over 200 conservation projects across India, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Sumatra and Borneo. The projects have reconnected forest fragments, created elephant corridors, restored migratory routes, fight wildlife crime, and found ways for humans and elephants to live closer together than ever before.
The Duchess of Cornwall’s late brother, Mark Shand, was a travel writer and conservationist who dedicated his life to the survival of the Asian elephant. He was the founding force behind Elephant Family when the charity launched in 2002. The Duchess of Cornwall has been a patron of the charity since its inception.
During the reception, Prince Charles raised a toast to “my darling wife’s late brother and a much-loved brother-in-law to me”.
Shand became actively involved in the conservation and rescue of elephants in 1988, when he came across a street begging elephant whom he rescued and named Tara. His book, ‘Travels on My Elephant’ was written about his experiences with Tara. She was the inspiration for Elephant Family. His book went on to win Travel Writer of the Year at the British Book Awards in 1992.
Elephant Family say how honoured they are to have Their Royal Highnesses as joint Royal Presidents and how much they appreciate their support. Their patronage, making speeches, attending functions and press launches and endorsements is crucial for the success of Elephant Family.
“The dedicated efforts of Elephant Family are helping to highlight and resolve the issues faced by Asia’s vulnerable elephants. Not only are these magnificent animals trapped in a daily battle for food, water and space with an ever-expanding human population, but they also face the increasing threat of being killed for their skin to supply a growing illegal market.
Elephant Family’s work is helping to secure a long-term future not just for Asia’s elephants, but for the wider biodiversity of Asia’s forests and wild landscapes with are vital to the survival of us all.”