The billionaire Tetra Pak heiress Eva Rausing, one of the richest women in Britain, was found dead by police on July 11.
Eva was, at the time of her death, a trustee of one of architecture-buff Prince Charles’s most favoured charities, The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment and she was also a co-patron with Kate Middleton of the drug charity Action on Addiction to which she has given hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Her husband, Hans Kristian has been arrested over the death and moved from a police station to a "medical facility". The 49-year-old had initially been arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs. Following a subsequent search that afternoon of an address in Cadogan Place, a body was found.
For all the tragedy of Mrs Rausing’s death, the apparently drug-related tragedy calls into question Prince Charles’s judgement following the events of a controversial 2008 court case involving the Rausings.
The Rausings, who met in rehab in the 1990s, were leading lights of the London social scene in the noughties, living in a $50m house in Cadogan Square. It was not widely known that they were still actively using drugs.
In April 2008, when Eva Rausing attended the American Embassy to renew her US passport, she cheerfully submitted her bag to the search process – evidently forgetting that she had left 2.5 grams of heroin and 10 grams of crack cocaine in her purse. The police were called, and a further search of the couples palatial London home turned up thousands of dollars worth of pure cocaine as well as more crack and heroin.
Court documents revealed Mrs Rausing, then 44, was carrying about 10g of crack cocaine, 2.5g of heroin and 2.35g of diethylpropion, a banned stimulant and appetite suppressant. A further drugs stash, 220mg of diazepam, used to treat anxiety, was also found in her Renault Clio car.
The couple's £5 million Georgian five-storey town house in Cadogan Place was subsequently searched. Officers found 0.2oz (5.63g) of crack cocaine, 0.1oz (2.9g) of heroin and almost 1.8oz (52g) of cocaine.
After lengthy discussions between his legal team and prosecutors, Mr and Mrs Rausing accepted a conditional police caution instead. Under the terms of the conditional caution issued by prosecutors, the couple had to attend a drug treatment course for four months and then have monthly drug tests for six months.
Despite massive public outrage about the handling of the Rausing’s case, and suspicions that their donations of millions of dollars a year were the true reason they enjoyed such leniency, Prince Charles, who in 2004 had personally appointed Mrs Rausing as a trustee of his charity, the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, took the extraordinary decision to publicly back Eva Rausing.
Chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation Hank Dittmar, a former adviser to President Clinton, said at the time: “We support Eva Rausing in her efforts to overcome her problems and look forward to her completion of her treatment programme. She remains a dedicated member of the Foundation board of trustees contributing to the charity’s education work.”
It has emerged today that Eva Rausing had been dead from a drug overdose for about a week before her body was discovered inside her $90million London home this week.
One "friend" who claimed to have recently visited the Cadogan Place address said the couple have been living virtually in two rooms which he described as a ‘drugs den’. Much of the sprawling house, he said, was ‘unused’.
He added: "It was total squalor. Really messy. You wouldn’t believe they were billionaires. It shows the effects of drugs. They couldn’t look after themselves or their house. They only used two rooms despite having dozens. It’s very sad indeed."
The couple are said to have become ‘reclusive’ in recent months and when he went out Mr Rausing chose often to use the vast property’s rear entrance.
Socialite Liz Brewer, a friend of Mrs Rausing, said: "She was totally addicted and was trying to get off it. The last time I saw her was a couple of months ago. She had cut herself off from people for a while. Eva tried hard to turn things around and went to about every rehab around. I heard she may have been dead in the house for a while, but it was rare for him [Hans] to be out of the house for more than a few hours."
Jules Hearn, a friend for 15 years, said Mrs Rausing’s death was ‘inevitable’. Mrs Hearn said her friend had resorted to blood transfusions after years of drug abuse, and relied on a pacemaker to regulate her heart.
After laying a rose outside the Rausings’ house yesterday, she said: "She was a troubled soul. Everyone thought this was going to happen one day. She tried to help herself again and again but it is an illness."
Eva’s family issued a statement about their daughter late last night, saying : “During her short lifetime she made a huge philanthropic impact, supporting a large number of charitable causes, not only financially, but using her own personal experiences. She bravely fought her health issues for many years. The family is devastated at her death.”
Statements have been issued today by the charities she worked for. Action on Addiction said: “Everyone involved with Action on Addiction is devastated to hear the news of Eva Rausing’s untimely death. Without any desire for public recognition, Eva has, through her wonderfully generous support of this and other charities helped so many people for over 20 years.”
A spokesperson for The Prince's Foundation for Building Community said: "Our condolences have been sent following this tragic news. The Rausings have been long term supporters of the education work of The Prince's Foundation, and we have appreciated their generosity and commitment."
Source: 1, 2