The Complete Transformation Of James Hewitt

The name James Hewitt might not ring a lot of bells at first, but back in the 1990s, he was quite well known in the United Kingdom. This was perhaps not for the best reasons, though. The big reveal that catapulted Hewitt into public consciousness was the five-year affair he had with Princess Diana while she was still married to Prince Charles. Most of the press coverage afterward did not paint Hewitt in a favorable light; whether he actually deserved it or not is for you to decide. 

Over the years, he would be dubbed a couple of different nicknames, such as "Love Rat" and "Cad." At one point, the BBC even noted that his involvement with Diana had made him a "social outcast." He has also been accused of being Prince Harry's biological father, despite numerous denials of this from both Prince Harry and Hewitt themselves. Indeed, a lot of trouble has followed him. But there's more to him than just these controversies. He is also a military veteran and an experienced horse rider and polo player.

Despite the intensive coverage of Hewitt and Princess Diana's relationship by various outlets, there are still a lot of gray areas. What exactly went on behind the scenes? The conflicting accounts of their relationship make the quest for the truth a difficult one. What we know for certain is that Hewitt's life was never the same after his relationship with Princess Diana ended. 

James Hewitt was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1958

James Hewitt was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, on April 30, 1958. "I was brought up in Devon. It was there that I learnt to ride and to love the countryside," he wrote in his book "A Love Like No Other — Diana and Me." Hewitt is the youngest child of John Alfred Hewitt and Shirley Stamp and has two sisters: Syra and Caroline, the latter of whom is his twin. "I was lucky enough to spend my childhood in a happy and close-knit family," Hewitt shared. His father was a former Royal Marine and Olympic athlete who completed as a pentathlete at the Helsinki Summer Olympics in 1952. Stamp, Hewitt's mother, was a dental surgeon who also used to run a riding school. Hewitt hoped to take over the riding school in the future, but the land was eventually sold to make way for roads and other developments in the area.

Though Hewitt wasn't very strong academically, he excelled in sports. When he attended Millfield School, his headmaster, Jack Meyer, discovered that he had dyslexia. Lucky for Hewitt, Millfield was one of the first schools in Ireland that was readily equipped and known for aiding students with dyslexia; they had a strong sports program, too. 

"[Meyer] had a belief that if you could build your confidence in the sporting world, it would help your academic work as well," Hewitt wrote.

He enlisted in the British Army at the age of 20

After graduating from Millfield School, James Hewitt decided to do a Short Service Commission, which would entail serving around three years in the military. By the end, he would have a choice between opting out or transferring to either Special Regular Commission or Regular Commission, which would extend his service. Hewitt's father, a former military man himself, got in touch with old friend Gen. Sir Cecil "Monkey" Blacker. Blacker helped Hewitt secure a place in the military provided that he completed his training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

He underwent basic recruitment training in Yorkshire before being sent to the Rowallan Company, an intensive development course at Sandhurst, which solidified his decision to join the armed forces. "A lot of people give up the notion of the Army after that, but I found I truly enjoyed it," Hewitt recalled in the book "A Love Like No Other — Diana and Me." It was through the influence of a colleague at Sandhurst, Charlie Graham, that he considered a career with The Life Guards, one of the senior cavalry regiments of the British Army. "[It] would give me a chance of soldiering in London," Hewitt explained. "Also, I would be able to indulge my passion for horses much more fully, not just in regimental duties but with a prospect of hunting and possibly polo. He proceeded to become a cavalry officer for the British Army.

James Hewitt met Princess Diana at a party in 1986

When James Hewitt joined The Life Guards in 1978, he was in close proximity to the monarchy. It was during his tenure in The Life Guards that he met Princess Diana, an introduction that would change both their lives completely. In 1986, Hewitt and Princess Diana were formally introduced at a party thrown by Hazel West, Diana's lady-in-waiting, at St. James' Palace. As they spoke that night, Diana expressed her fear of horses after breaking her arm while riding a pony as a child. The young officer offered to help her overcome this fear, and the arrangement made a lot of sense since he was an experienced rider. What started out innocent slowly blossomed into something else. "One thing went wrong — we fell in love," Hewitt wrote in his book Love and War.

Ken Wharfe, Princess Diana's protection officer, was not around on the day Hewitt and the Princess met, but he met Hewitt very soon after he was appointed to Diana's security in 1988. Eventually, the princess confided her feelings for Hewitt to Wharfe. "[I]t was clear from the way she spoke that she adored the man, even after the affair had cooled. Their first conversation felt natural, she said, and it was this that sparked her attraction. As she put it, they got along famously," Wharfe wrote in his book "Diana: A Closely Guarded Secret."

James Hewitt had an affair with Princess Diana for 5 years

"It was a friendship that developed into a love affair," James Hewitt shared in an interview with Tracy Grimshaw. As time passed, Hewitt realized the true nature of their riding lessons. "It became more and more apparent that she didn't just want to learn to ride, she wanted to get away," Hewitt wrote in his book "A Love Like No Other — Diana and Me." Princess Diana was unhappy with her marriage to King Charles and she was also aware of his relationship with then-girlfriend, and now queen, Camilla Parker Bowles

Hewitt was someone who provided comfort for Princess Diana during a difficult time. "[He] gave her the attention and affection she relished, and then the passion she yearned for," Ken Wharfe, Princess Diana's Protection officer, wrote in "Diana: A Closely Guarded Secret." "He injected excitement and youthful vitality into her life at a time when she really needed to be loved."

 "In 1986, her marriage to Prince Charles was over in all but name," Hewitt wrote. "That autumn, I spent a lot of time with Diana giving her riding lessons. We fell in love and contrived to see as much of each other as possible." Being in an affair with the princess involved a lot of sneaking around. "Hewitt was regularly bundled into car boots and driven to Kensington Palace when their affair ensued," Anna Pasternak, author of "Princess in Love," told the Daily Mail.

He commanded a tank squadron during the Gulf War

In 1991, James Hewitt was deployed to fight in the Gulf War. He was part of Operation Desert Storm, where he served as a tank commander. "I was a tank squadron leader with the British Army and we led the British advance into Iraq and then back into Kuwait," Hewitt shared in an interview with Larry King. Hewitt and Princess Diana would still write to each other during this time, but the relationship eventually ran its course. 

Because Hewitt often had to fly overseas, his job in the military started to affect their affair. This was the beginning of the end, which Ken Wharfe wrote in his book "Diana: A Closely Guarded Secret." "Diana felt betrayed: He had chosen his career over her. At first, she did everything she could to prevent him from going, even threatening to speak to his commanding officer. When James refused to give up his career, Diana let the affair wane."

In the end, both his military career and his relationship with Princess Diana suffered. "I did have to resign from the Officers' Club and The Life Guards Association. The regiment has to be seen to be loyal to the Sovereign and my relationship with Diana certainly broke that rule," Hewitt explained in "A Love Like No Other — Diana and Me." Hewitt would later retire as a captain after a career in the military that lasted a total of 17 years.

James Hewitt and Princess Diana's relationship became public knowledge in 1991

Shortly after James Hewitt's victorious command of a tank squadron during the Gulf War, gossip columns caught wind of his affair with Princess Diana. "My days as an Army officer had been numbered from that moment on," Hewitt recalled in the book "A Love Like No Other — Diana and Me." This wasn't received well by the military, and eventually led to his discharge. 

In the hopes of setting the record straight, the ex-cavalry officer collaborated with author Anna Pasternak on the controversial tell-all book "Princess in Love." "Many unauthorized books were in the works, so Anna Pasternak suggested to me the time was right to put the record straight with a factual book," Hewitt explained. This was a move Hewitt later came to regret. "I made a big mistake in speaking. Subsequently, Anna published a romance, Princess in Love, which I have never read but which has been a cross I have had to bear for the past few years."

On November 20, 1995, Princess Diana went on the record regarding her affair with Hewitt in a controversial interview with Martin Bashir on the BBC. "Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down," she said.

He attempted suicide after his breakup with Princess Diana

The aftermath of the breakup was difficult, to say the least. After the book "Princess in Love" was announced, the press had their eyes locked on James Hewitt. According to Hewitt, a leak in his credit card company allowed journalists to find him wherever he was. He detailed these events in his book "A Love Like No Other — Diana and Me." "When I used a card to pay a bill and the transaction was processed in London, a reporter would turn up at the hotel or cafe shortly afterward."

Hewitt was extremely depressed at this point and wanted to attempt suicide. "I got in my car and loaded a few things up to get on the ferry to go to France — to shoot myself,' he explained in an interview with Inside Edition in 2011. Along with everything else going on at the time, he had felt like he "let people down." What ultimately stopped him from going through with it was the presence of his mother, who insisted on keeping him company. "If she hadn't, I would have probably shot myself. So I owe her my life, really," Hewitt said.

James Hewitt wrote a memoir titled Love and War in 1999

Two years after Princess Diana's death, James Hewitt released a memoir titled "Love and War." He opens the book expressing regret about his affair with the late princess. "I loved Diana. I love her still. I feel blessed that she loved me and we were able to enjoy a few short years which reached heights of happiness I have never known before or since," Hewitt wrote. "But part of me wishes it had never happened; that she and Prince Charles had had a successful marriage."

"Love and War" was later reprinted with a couple of new chapters and different titles: "Moving On" in 2005 and "A Love Like No Other — Diana and Me" in 2017. Hewitt claimed to People that writing this memoir was a way for him to "move on" while also telling his side of the story. The book reads like an autobiography, focusing heavily on his relationship with Princess Diana and his military career. The latter chapters, which were not part of the initial 1999 print, are continuations of Hewitt's autobiography detailing his reality TV career in the 2000s and the trouble that ensued when he considered selling personal letters Princess Diana had sent to him.

He considered selling his love letters from Princess Diana in 2002

In 2002, James Hewitt considered selling his love letters from Princess Diana (as if he didn't already get enough negative press). This included personal letters and greeting cards addressed to Hewitt from the late princess, alongside two greeting cards from a young Prince William.  But according to a close friend, as well as Hewitt himself, this was merely to get a valuation rather than any actual intent to sell. Those letters and greeting cards were reportedly valued at $150,000 back in 2015.

There were a couple of attempts to sell outside the previously mentioned incident, which were discussed during Hewitt's interview with Larry King in 2003. After rejecting an offer from an American collector, another buyer approached Hewitt offering him £5 million for 10 letters. Hewitt met with the supposed buyer, but it turned out to be a sting operation by a tabloid called "News of the World." As he told "Good Morning America," "I was approached and was offered a substantial sum. ... I was intrigued to see if it was possible to achieve this. So in the end, I suppose, yes, I am willing to sell." In his book "A Love Like No Other — Diana and Me," Hewitt explained that the huge amount of money made him consider selling the letters because he did not have a stable source of income at the time.

James Hewitt became a reality TV star in the early 2000s

In the early 2000s, James Hewitt didn't shy away from the public eye; instead, he basked in the limelight. He began his reality TV career by joining the reality sports game show "The Games" in 2003. The Gulf War veteran finished in second, and because of his participation in the show, he was able to join "Back to Reality" the following year. "Back to Reality" was a Channel 5 TV show comparable to the popular reality TV series "Big Brother," and its cast members consisted of people who had previously starred on reality TV shows of their own. Through his participation in "The Games," Hewitt won a total of £93,500, which he donated to a London-based charity for the homeless called The Passage. His short-lived reality TV career wasn't over yet, as he also appeared on a celebrity spin-off of "The X Factor" in 2006.

During his reality TV career, Hewitt was able to rebrand himself. "Suddenly the 'Love Rat' label was amusing rather than pejorative, that urbane accent and those manners (which are impeccable) endearing," Celia Walden, a British journalist, wrote in The Telegraph. "I did those shows for a reason," Hewitt explained. "I wasn't about to give in to the papers without a fight. I owed it to my friends and family to try to level the playing field, and it worked. As an ex-Army officer, I set about trying to achieve something and achieved it."

He tried out different business ventures after leaving the military

After retiring from the military, James Hewitt embarked on a couple of different business ventures. Shortly after his retirement in 1994, he invested in a driving range in London that eventually closed down. Then, after dipping his toes into the reality TV world in the early aughts, he moved to Marbella, Spain, for a change of scenery. "I wanted to start afresh," the retired cavalry officer told The Telegraph in 2009. "London became like living in a goldfish bowl," he explained. "I've let go of England, but I do wish it all the best. And honestly, it's paradise here: I feel so lucky, and I don't deserve that luck."

In 2009, he opened The Polo House, a restaurant and bar in a posh area called the Golden Mile in Marbella. The Golden Mile is a 5-kilometer strip of coastline with an impeccable view that boasts the best of the best in terms of hotels, restaurants, cafes, beach clubs, and so on. "Having been fortunate enough to have traveled and dined extensively in some of the world's most charming locations, and being someone who loves the arts of fine food, wine, and entertaining, I had carried around the thought of a place like the Polo House for some time," Hewitt shared in an interview with Tout Magazine in 2010. The Polo House was operational for four years until its closure in 2013.

James Hewitt suffered a heart attack and stroke in May 2017

James Hewitt suffered from both a heart attack and a stroke, which required an emergency operation. "He had a preexisting illness, then got seriously ill. Suddenly, it got very critical, and he was rushed to hospital," a concerned relative told The Mirror. Hewitt was initially admitted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and was transferred to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for further treatment and recovery. Though the odds seemed slim at the time, he was able to survive and was later discharged.

Since the closure of The Polo House in 2013, James Hewitt has kept a relatively low profile. He was spotted back in the U.K. a couple of months later and was said to be living with his mother, Shirley Stamp, back in Devon. Hewitt never married or had any children, though it's something he wanted for a time. "I think it's a bit irresponsible if you can't afford them or don't have the right attitude," he explained to The Telegraph in 2009.

He has denied rumors of being Prince Harry's father

Rumors about Prince Harry's paternity have swirled in the tabloids since Princess Diana's affair with James Hewitt was revealed. For a long time, the young prince questioned whether the rumors were true, and it was a very painful experience for him. "At the time, when I was 18 years old and had lost my mother just six years earlier, stories such as this felt very damaging and very real to me," Harry wrote in an official statement. It didn't help that King Charles would joke about it, too. During a court hearing against Mirror Group Newspapers, Harry claimed that the rumors regarding his lineage were part of a plan to oust him from the royal family.

Though the two share some resemblances, including in the color of their hair, there was never any truth to these claims. Prince Harry was born in 1984, while Hewitt and Princess Diana met in 1986, and their affair started in 1987. Hewitt has gone on record numerous times to deny the claims, but the story keeps getting picked up. "There really is no possibility whatsoever that I am Harry's father," he explained in an interview with the Sunday Mirror. "When I met Diana, Harry was already a toddler." The Gulf War veteran believes that the rumors won't stop despite the facts presented because the story "sells papers," as he said in an interview on "Sunday Night."