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Prince of Wales leads tributes to Tara Palmer-Tomkinson after death aged 45

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 so much 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 with an auto-immune 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.

Darren Day, who appeared alongside her in the jungle, said: "I'm so sad to hear that Tara Palmer-Tomkinson has passed away. Thoughts and love to her family RIP Tara x."

She also made appearances on other TV shows including celebrity specials of Blind Date and A Place In The Sun.

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 Charles and i n 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 Mrs 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."

A number of Bramham Gardens residents said they were shocked and horrified by the news.

The blinds were drawn on the flat where Palmer-Tomkinson lived.

Several ambulance vehicles were pulled up outside the address before leaving.

An officer was stationed outside the property and a police car was parked on the street.

Palmer-Tomkinson's body was removed from her home on a trolley into a private ambulance on Wednesday evening and driven away.

Socialite and reality TV star Tamara Beckwith, one of her friends, 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.

"My thoughts are naturally with her family."

Blue singer and soap actor Duncan James, a close friend of Palmer-Tomkinson, tweeted: "Heartbroken and numb I have lost one of my oldest and dearest friends.

"I'm going to miss ur laughter the most shmooey . Rip sweetheart (sic)."

James's Blue co-star Antony Costa wrote: "Sad to hear the news about #TPT met you loads of times and was always a good laugh RIP."

The band's Lee Ryan added that he was "really really shocked" to learn of Palmer-Tomkinson's death.

Singer Alexandra Burke wrote on Twitter: "What a sad day. RIP TPT. I will never forget how warm and loving you were every time I saw you. Such a beautiful soul. Sad sad news.

"I'm in so much shock that Tara has passed away. So young. So tragic. My prayers and thoughts are with her and the family at this sad time."

Former Westlife star Brian McFadden paid tribute to Palmer-Tomkinson online, calling her a "real character" and adding that she "will be sadly missed".

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