Season 4 of The Crown focuses on Princess Diana's introduction to the royal family and her tumultuous marriage to Prince Charles. Unsurprisingly, Diana and Charles's alleged extramarital affairs also get some attention, even if those relationships aren't fully fleshed out on-screen. One such affair is the reported romance between Diana and James Hewitt.
Author Anna Pasternak detailed the alleged affair in her book Princess in Love. According to OprahMag.com, Hewitt revealed to Pasternak that his relationship with the princess took place from 1986 until 1991. Ahead, we dive deeper into the details surrounding Diana and her former lover.
Princess Diana met James Hewitt in 1986.
In his 1999 book, Love and War, Hewitt discussed meeting Diana. Per OprahMag.com, Hewitt revealed that the Princess of Wales asked him to give her riding lessons. "Only one thing went wrong," he wrote. "We fell in love."
According to Town & Country, the couple met "at a party thrown by her lady-in-waiting, Hazel West." At the time, Hewitt was serving in the British Army. He would fail his major's exam on three occasions, and when he retired in 1994 after 17 years of service, he was a captain. Hewitt was given the rank of major in retirement.
James used to sneak into Kensington Palace.
Pasternak wrote an essay for the Daily Mail about the affair and revealed, "Hewitt was regularly bundled into car boots and driven to Kensington Palace when their affair ensued. He told me he was terrified the first night he stayed in Kensington Palace, relieved at least that Charles and Diana had separate bedrooms. Apparently, she had 30 childhood cuddly toys lining the end of her bed."
Pasternak also alleged, "It surprised me that Hewitt was a fan of Prince Charles's, with whom he played polo. As is de rigueur in aristocratic circles, Charles knew of and welcomed their affair as it distracted Diana, taking pressure off him and Camilla."
Meanwhile, Pasternak claimed, "Camilla's husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, also knew of and condoned Charles and Camilla's relationship." Whether or not this is true, though, is unclear.
Diana's affair with James wasn't a well-kept secret.
As reported by The Sun, many people seemed to know about Diana's romance with Hewitt while it was happening. According to the publication, Ken Wharfe, Diana's former protection officer, detailed the princess's affair in his book Diana: Closely Guarded Secret. Per The Sun, Wharfe wrote, "Hewitt, a natural womanizer, gave her the attention and affection she relished, and then the passion she yearned for."
He continued, "At first, Diana refused to concede to me that her affair was anything less than innocent. 'Nothing is going on,' she would say, her face flushing red, as we drove back from a tryst, usually with the atmosphere tense in the car."
Though Wharfe's description of events was less than subtle, it would seem that people noticed what was going on between the pair.
Diana wrote James love letters.
Between 1989 and 1991, Diana and her beau wrote each other love letters. Apparently, they were common knowledge, because Hewitt has regularly expressed his desire to sell the letters to the highest bidder.
According to ABC News, the letters were written while Hewitt was serving as a tank commander in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. "There's nothing in the letters to be embarrassed or ashamed about," Hewitt said. "I think they're historical documents written by her to me as I served in the Gulf War, and they will become more and more of an important historical part of what went on."
In her Daily Mail article, Pasternak reported that one of Diana's letters said, "I have lain awake at night loving you desperately and thanking God for bringing you into my life—my darling one, you are the most magical and special person I've ever met, and how extraordinarily lucky I am to have been loved by you."
The affair cooled off due to James's military commitments.
Diana's affair with Hewitt ran out of steam in 1989, when he was posted in Germany. According to OprahMag.com, Tina Brown's The Diana Chronicles revealed that Diana didn't want Hewitt to be posted overseas. Brown alleged, "She said, 'You promised you'd always be here for me and now you've broken that promise.'"
Diana and Hewitt reportedly rekindled their affair briefly in 1990, but the princess later ended the relationship for good. According to the BBC, Diana "stopped taking Hewitt's telephone calls" in 1992.
Rumors about Prince Harry's parentage began.
Despite the fact that Prince Harry was born in September 1984, prior to Diana meeting Hewitt in 1986, rumors have long circulated that the equestrian might be Harry's father. However, Hewitt has categorically denied this on a number of occasions. During an interview with the Sunday Mirror in 2002, Hewitt said, "There really is no possibility whatsoever that I am Harry's father. I can absolutely assure you that I am not. Admittedly the red hair is similar to mine and people say we look alike. I have never encouraged these comparisons and although I was with Diana for a long time I must state once and for all that I'm not Harry's father. When I first met Diana, Harry was already a toddler."
Diana discussed the affair on British TV.
On November 20, 1995, Diana sat down with Martin Bashir on BBC's Panorama for a candid interview, via TIME. Not only did the princess admit to her relationship with Hewitt, but she also addressed his involvement in the writing of the tell-all book, Princess in Love, by Pasternak. "Yes, I adored him," Diana said. "Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down."
Diana was most likely referring to Hewitt's attempts to cash in on their dalliance. As noted by the BBC, "As well as a reported £300,000 fee for the book [Princess in Love], a subsequent interview in the News of the World is said to have brought him £1 million."
Following Diana's death in 1997, Hewitt remained in the spotlight following the royal affair. He opened a golf driving range, appeared on a celebrity version of The X Factor, and won the 2004 competition of Back to Reality.
In 2009, Hewitt opened the Polo House bar in Marbella, Spain, but it closed down in 2013. More recently, in 2017, Hewitt was admitted to the hospital after suffering a heart attack and stroke. He was later discharged, and now resides in South West England.
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