Throughout Annabelle Neilson‘s life, the reality star and British aristocrat faced hardship and turmoil.
On Monday, PEOPLE confirmed that the Ladies of London star had died at at the age of 49. The details of her death are not available at this time.
Years before her death, Neilson, who comes from an aristocratic family (her mother Elizabeth is a marquesa), opened up about her troubled past.
Here’s a look back at the tragedies she endured over the course of her life.
As a child, Neilson battled severe dyslexia. As an adult, Neilson discussed her childhood hardship in a series of children’s books she’d written, including The Me Me Me’s: Angry Me.
“Angry me is a character based on me in part as a child with severe dyslexia — but I think Angry Me evokes the frustrations and feelings for children when they can’t release such a powerful emotion as anger and it can be so many different things that a child can struggle with,” she told MyBaba. “Other characters have been based around friends, some family, some godchildren. You do look for inspiration amongst the people close to you.”
“Messy Me is based on my sister. Dreamy Me is based in part on me but also on all children who when they are asleep have the ability to make anything happen and anything possible,” she continued. “Imaginative Me I wrote for my friend Lee Alexander McQueen and I will dedicate that book to him for very obvious reasons. He was the most imaginative person I ever knew.”
Losing Her Best Friend
In 2010, late fashion designer Alexander McQueen died by suicide, leaving Neilson absolutely devastated.
“He was my brother, my boyfriend, my soulmate. Most of the time people called me Mrs McQueen. Quite often we were sharing a bed,” Neilson, who was the last person to see the designer alive, told the Daily Mail in 2015.
“The truth is I was happier with Lee than with anyone else. He asked me to marry him towards the end and I said no. I wish now that I had said yes,” she added.
In February 2017, the Bravo star paid tribute to McQueen in a touching Instagram tribute.
“My best friend and soul mate died 7 years ago,” she wrote. “My love will be there for ever and ever #Alexander Mcqueen #mcqueen #genius #loveofmylife #designer #bestfriend miss you so much!!!”
At the age of 16, Neilson was staying in Perth, Australia, with family when she was attacked by a man. “The attack lasted for two hours. I was tied to a tree and continually beaten. I looked like the elephant girl by the end of it,” she told the Daily Mail in 2015.
“I managed to escape with my life but I needed reconstructive surgery because my face was so disfigured,” she shared. “After that, I fell into a serious depression and became a heroin addict because it provided an escape bubble and was the only way I could cope.”
“In a way, heroin saved me because otherwise I would have killed myself,” shared Neilson, who was later able to remain sober.
Neilson married British banker Nat Rothschild in 1994.
“Nat and I had been together for four years and I was 26 when I married him. He first asked me to marry him half an hour after we met and then every day afterwards. Finally, we decided to do it,” she told the Daily Mail.
Three years later, the couple divorced.
Neilson was an avid horse racer until she was thrown off the saddle in 2013.
“I remember seeing the glint of a silver car and the horse getting spooked and jumping,” she told the Daily Mail. “The next second I was flat on my back in the mud.”
“The pain was horrendous and I started having convulsions. Worst of all, I couldn’t move my legs and I thought, ‘This is it, I’m paralyzed,’ ” she said.
Although she told the Daily Mail that she was able to walk again after 12 weeks, she was told by doctors she could never ride again — and suffered chronic pain following the incident.
“The truth is I was happiest when I was training. I love the connection with these great animals and, although I grew up riding, racing is completely different,” she told the outlet.
Fame and Fortune
“Kate is my best mate and I love her like a sister. Yes, she’s an icon but to me she’s just Kate,” Neilson told Daily Mail, and added that “we fight over stupid things, then we kiss and make up.”
“We share clothes, we share everything and her fame has never been an issue,” she continued. “She always looks out for me and I look out for her. We’ve got each other’s backs.”
Although Neilson ran in A-list circles, she admitted to preferring infamy over fame.
“My dad says I’m perfect and everybody else says I’m trouble,” she told MyBaba in September 2015 about summing her life up in one sentence. “I’d prefer to be infamous rather than famous.”