Who is Princess Diana's former lover, James Hewitt?

Princess Diana handing a trophy to James Hewitt
(Ron Dadswell/Shutterstock)

Princess Diana and the then Prince Charles were known to have conducted several affairs during their marriage, with Charles famously seeing Camilla Shand, who is now his wife.

One of Diana's most notable affairs was with former soldier James Hewitt, who initially met the late Princess of Wales at a party. Their affair became public knowledge when James helped with the writing of the 1994 book Princess in Love, which detailed their five-year relationship between 1986 and 1991.

Despite his high-profile affair, James has maintained a low profile, so what do you know of the man who once had the heart of Princess Diana? Read on to find out everything you need to know…

James Hewitt's career

James Hewitt in military uniform with Princess Diana
James had a successful military career (All Action/ABACA/Shutterstock)

James comes from a military background with his father, Olympic pentathlete John Hewitt, having served in the Royal Marines. After graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1978, he joined the Brigade of Guards. The military serviceman would be promoted to a lieutenant in 1980 and an acting captain in 1984.

Relationship with Princess Diana

James met the late Princess of Wales in 1986 at a party that was thrown by the royal's lady-in-waiting, Hazel West. During a conversation between the pair, Diana confessed that she had a fear of horses, leading to James offering her riding lessons in order to overcome this fear.

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Reflecting on their first meeting, Diana's former protections officer, Ken Wharfe, wrote: "She said that their first conversation was completely natural, and it was this that first attracted her to him. They got along famously from the start ... Hewitt told her he was a riding instructor; when she in turn spoke of her long-held fear of riding, he offered to help her overcome it."

James Hewitt and Princess Diana with King Charles
Diana is said to have met James at a party in 1986 (Minster Films Ltd/Shutterstock)

The relationship is said to have lasted for five years between 1986 and 1991, with their pairing ending when James was deployed to Saudi Arabia. In the book Diana: Closely Guarded Secret, Ken penned: "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."

Speaking in 2017 about their relationship, James admitted: "I'd cook and [Diana] would wash up. Just dinner and relaxing and laughing."

James Hewitt holding his book 'Love and War'
James went public with their affair in 1994 (Evan Agostini)

The affair didn't come to light until three years after it ended, with James assisting in the publication of Princess in Love, which divulged details about their relationship. James also wrote Love and War in 1999 which contained further details.

Diana confirmed the affair in 1995 during her infamous Panaroma interview and confessed that she had been "let down" by the release of his first book. "Yes, I adored him," she revealed. "Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down."

Where is he now?

James retired from active military service in 1994, opening a golf course shortly afterwards, although this collapsed.

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Since then, the star has featured on Celebrity X Factor, Top Gear, The Games and won Back to Reality, a Channel 5 show featuring stars from previous reality TV shows.

In 2009, James opened up a bar, The Polo House, in Marabella, Spain, however, the business folded in 2013.

James Hewitt in a suit and tie
James fell ill in 2017 (Ferdaus Shamim)

In 2017, he suffered from a heart attack and stroke. It was reported that James needed to have emergency surgery, but after a month in hospital it appeared that he made a full recovery, as he was seen leaving with his mother.

The 65-year-old is believed to be living with is mother in Devon. In 2021, it was reported by MailOnline that he had found work as a gardener.