It’s no secret that the British royal family has fascinated the world for decades, but perhaps no member of the clan was as famous and iconic as Princess Diana. The Princess of Wales, who was tragically killed in a car crash in 1997 when she was just 36 years old, is someone people still can’t stop obsessing over. Blame it on the Netflix original series The Crown, or Diana’s two children, Prince William and Prince Harry; they’re still living very much in the public eye. Perhaps that’s why Diana has never been far from the public consciousness.
But one aspect of Diana’s much too short life that many people might not know about is her relationship with Major James Hewitt (via The Oprah Magazine). While The Crown briefly touches on Hewitt, there was so much more to their interactions and romance overall that doesn’t get near the amount of attention it deserves. After all, Diana might not have ended up with Hewitt, but the two shared a seriously intense affair, to say the least. Read on to discover the truth about Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt’s relationship.
Princess Diana was a married woman when she met Major James Hewitt
Princess Diana — who underwent a stunning transformation – led a very public life after she and Prince Charles got engaged. In fact, Diana — who was dubbed the "people’s princess" — was one of, if not the biggest celebrity at the time. To say that people were obsessed with her would be a massive understatement, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have some secrets. For instance, when she first met Major James Hewitt, who would later become her lover, she was already taken.
Princess Diana married Prince Charles at St. Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981, and their wedding was a huge, international event, according to Brittanica. But despite being married (to a prince, no less), that didn’t stop Diana from getting involved with Hewitt. According to Town & Country, the pair met in 1986, meaning Diana had been married for about five years at that point. And since Diana was a huge public figure, Hewitt obviously knew who she was and that she was married when they met. But, when it comes to affairs of the heart, nothing is off limits.
Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt’s first meeting was kismet
Despite the fact that Princess Diana was obviously married to Prince Charles when she first met Major James Hewitt at a party in 1986, they still had an instant connection. While they didn’t immediately begin an affair after their first meeting, there was some kismet in the very beginning, and the feelings they started to have for one another were more than just a physical attraction.
Specifically, Diana’s royal protection officer, Ken Wharfe, wrote about the first meeting in his book Diana: Closely Guarded Secret, and it sounds pretty intense. "Their first conversation felt natural, she said, and it was this that sparked her attraction," he wrote, according to Town & Country. "As she put it, they got along famously." In fact, after they first met, they arranged to meet again, because their connection was just that strong.
Now, it’s no secret that Diana’s marriage to Charles wasn’t exactly all sunshine and roses, but still, her decision to get involved with someone else couldn’t have been easy.
Major James Hewitt was Princess Diana’s riding teacher
One of the first things that Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt talked about wasn’t super scintillating. Instead, it was about…horses? As Diana’s royal protection officer, Ken Wharfe, described in his book Diana: Closely Guarded Secret, "He told her he was a riding instructor and, when she confessed she was afraid of horses, offered to help her overcome her fear," he wrote, according to Town & Country.
Obviously, Diana spent more time with Hewitt as he taught her how to ride, and that’s really where the affair took off. Reportedly, Hewitt was very charming, and honestly, who wouldn’t fall for their handsome horse-riding teacher?
Diana and Hewitt’s relationship was the stuff of housewife fantasies, but that doesn’t mean it was all physical. According to royal biographer Andrew Morton, Hewitt was a "man of great charm who provided Diana with amusing and sympathetic companionship at a time when she needed a shoulder to lean on because of her husband’s neglect," he wrote in Diana: Her True Story — In Her Own Words. So naturally, a relationship blossomed.
Princess Diana made the first move on Major James Hewitt
Though Princess Diana and Major James Jewitt started spending time together when he gave her riding lessons, Hewitt wasn’t the one who initiated their physical relationship. As it turns out, Diana made the first move — and made her feelings towards Hewitt crystal clear.
In the book The Diana Chronicles, Tina Brown wrote about Diana’s relationship with Hewitt, and detailed how their friendship turned into a romance. "She made the first overture by reaching to kiss him when they were alone in the Officers’ Mess, telling him, ‘I need you. You give me strength. I can’t stand it when I’m not with you,’" Brown wrote, according to the The Oprah Magazine. "From beginning to end, it was Diana who ran this affair."
Though the two shared a spark from the get-go, it was definitely Diana who decided to take things to the next level, and from there, the affair heated up.
Major James Hewitt wasn’t Princess Diana’s only affair
Though Netflix’s The Crown touches on Princess Diana’s affair with Major James Hewitt, that wasn’t the only relationship the British royal had outside of her marriage. Specifically, there were two more extramarital affairs Diana reportedly engaged in, and they might surprise you.
According to Tina Brown’s book, The Diana Chronicles, Diana also had a torrid affair with one of her bodyguards, Barry Mannakee, who was described as being "handsome in a blokey way." Additionally, their physical affair was said to have begun after a fishing accident.
But that’s not all, as The New York Times reported that Diana also had an alleged affair with her former childhood friend, James Gilbey. Obviously, only Diana and those involved could speak to the truth of those romances, but as Princess Diana and Prince Charles had a rocky relationship from the start, it wouldn’t be a shock for Diana to have had multiple relationships.
Princess Diana’s husband knew of her affair with Major James Hewitt
As shocking as it might seem to non-royals, affairs weren’t really that uncommon in the British royal family, at least during that time period. Not only were people aware that Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt were together, but Diana’s own husband, Prince Charles, knew all about it, too.
Author Anna Pasternak, who wrote Princess In Love, also wrote an essay for the Daily Mail in which she alleged that Diana and Hewitt’s affair wasn’t exactly a secret. "It surprised me that Hewitt was a fan of Prince Charles’s, with whom he played polo," Pasternak wrote. "As is de rigueur in aristocratic circles, Charles knew of and welcomed their affair as it distracted Diana, taking pressure off him and Camilla." Yup, while Diana was in a relationship with Hewitt, Charles was also in a relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he ended up marrying after Diana’s death.
It’s clear that Charles was somewhat unbothered by Diana and Hewitt’s relationship, perhaps because he was so consumed by his own affair.
Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt wrote love letters
The relationship between Princess Diana and Major James Jewitt got a bit complicated when Hewitt was sent abroad for work, as he was given command of a tank squadron in the late ’80s, according to Town & Country. Obviously, Princess Diana was heartbroken that Hewitt left town, but the two actually stayed in touch via love letters.
Indeed, Diana and Hewitt shared some steamy love notes, according to ABC News. In part, Diana’s letters to Hewitt read a little sweet and a little sultry. "There’s a surprise coming out to you, hopefully a nice one, something I hope you’ll like," one letter read. "If not, I want it back, there is nothing like whetting your appetite."
Additionally, there seems to be evidence that Diana sent Hewitt some naughty mail, too. "Another parcel sent away this morning, filthy card included," another letter read. Clearly, Diana and Hewitt shared some intimate moments and kept it going via letter-writing, proving they were dedicated to each other.
Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt were truly in love
Despite all the speculation and rumors that circulated concerning Princess Diana’s relationship with Major James Hewitt, the pair shared more than just a secret rendezvous. Specifically, Diana and Hewitt were truly in love for a time, and while it didn’t last for long, it was pretty intense while it was going on.
In an exclusive 2017 interview with Sunday Night, Hewitt described the affair and what it was like to fall in love. "Well, yes," he said, when asked to describe whether he was in love with Diana. "It’s a gradual period and then, you know, suddenly you can’t get enough of each other or see each other as much as you want." Hewitt also described how the two would spend their time together, and it sounded remarkably simple and lovely. "Well, I’d cook and she’d wash up. Just dinner and relaxing and laughing," he revealed.
While things between Diana and Hewitt got complicated, there’s no denying that at one point the two were majorly head over heels for each other.
This is how Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt sneaked around
While Princess Diana’s affair with Major James Hewitt wasn’t exactly shocking news for those in the royal family, including her husband, they still had to be quiet about their romance. After all, it wouldn’t look good for the royal family to be blatantly flaunting all of their affairs to the public. So, Diana and Hewitt had to figure out how to sneak around without getting caught by the media, or even just members of the public.
Princess Diana’s royal protection officer, Ken Wharfe, wrote in his book Diana: Closely Guarded Secret that "The pair usually met at an old cottage in Devon belonging to Shirley, Hewitt’s mother, where the creaking bedroom floorboards told the story more loudly than any confession." Honestly, sneaking off to a cottage to be with a lover sounds pretty idyllic and romantic, despite the complex circumstances.
Diana and Hewitt made the best of their situation and discovered new ways to be together, even though the public was constantly watching.
Major James Hewitt was like an uncle to Princess Diana’s children
Though it might be easy to write off Princess Diana’s affair with Major James Hewitt as just that, an affair, that is so not the case. In fact, the two were so close that Hewitt even got to know Diana’s children, Prince William and Prince Harry.
According to Anna Pasternak, author of Princess In Love, Hewitt had become an important figure not just in Diana’s life, but in the life of her children. "He became such a familiar private guest that William and Harry developed a fondness for him," she penned in an article in the Daily Mail.
Additionally, Diana’s relationship with Hewitt "blossomed precisely because he was a popular ‘uncle’ figure to her boys," Andrew Morton wrote in his book, Diana: Her True Story — In Her Own Words. Morton went on to explain that Hewitt even helped William fine-tune his horse-riding skills. Clearly, their affair was more than just a fling, as Diana’s own children looked up to Hewitt.
Major James Hewitt would sneak into the palace to see Princess Diana
In addition to sneaking off to a remote cottage to be together, Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt also found ways to meet in the actual palace, which could have been a tricky situation if they weren’t careful. But, of course, they were. After all, if Hewitt were to just stride into the palace demanding to be let into Diana’s bedroom, eyebrows would certainly raise.
So, Diana and Hewitt found ways around that. Author Anna Pasternak, who collaborated with Hewitt on a book, explained in the Daily Mail what exactly went down. "Hewitt was regularly bundled into car boots and driven to Kensington Palace when their affair ensued," she wrote. "He told me he was terrified the first night he stayed in Kensington Palace, relieved at least that Charles and Diana had separate bedrooms."
Hewitt also explained that Diana had stuffed animals on her bed, according to Pasternak, though it’s unclear whether or not they belonged to Diana herself or her children.
This is why Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt’s relationship ended
Clearly, Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt had an intense, torrid love affair. And while the two probably both knew that it couldn’t last forever, perhaps neither of them could have predicted how it would end. Because, as it turns out, their relationship didn’t end because Prince Charles was upset, or even because the public found out about it and was outraged. No, they ended their affair because Hewitt, essentially, abandoned Diana for his job.
Princess Diana’s royal protection officer, Ken Wharfe, wrote in his book Diana: Closely Guarded Secret that this was really the nail in the coffin for the princess. "Diana felt betrayed: he had chosen his career over her," he wrote. "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" (via Town & Country).
It couldn’t have been easy for Diana to end things with Hewitt. But because her marriage was crumbling, she likely needed someone that could be there for her, and Hewitt was no longer that person.
Princess Diana admitted that Major James Hewitt broke her heart
Princess Diana and Major James Hewitt’s relationship was certainly well-known throughout royal circles at the time it was going on, and just about everyone knew that Princess Diana and Prince Charles had a rocky marriage. Still, two years after their breakup, Hewitt betrayed Diana in an entirely new way when he collaborated with author Anna Pasternak on the book, Princess In Love; the tome laid out the gory details about their affair, according to Town & Country.
It was that book that hurt Diana the most. In 1995, about a year before Princess Diana and Prince Charles got divorced, Diana gave an infamous interview with BBC’s Panorama (which is now under investigation, as noted by Cosmopolitan). In the chat, Diana publicly admitted to the affair, and more. "Yes, I adored him," she said, when asked about Hewitt and his book. "Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down."
Clearly, Diana still had fond feelings towards Hewitt, until his ultimate betrayal of the tell-all book.
No, Major James Hewitt isn’t Prince Harry’s father
Because one of Major James Hewitt’s defining traits is his red hair, many tabloids were quick to assert that he was Prince Harry’s father, and not Prince Charles. Obviously, Harry also has red hair, but that does not a biological father make.
Not only has Hewitt himself denied those rumors, but they’re just not possible. "A simple comparison of dates proves it is impossible for Hewitt to be Harry’s father," Hewitt’s former personal protection officer and confidant, Ken Wharfe, wrote in the book Diana: Closely Guarded Secret. In fact, Princess Diana herself knew of the rumors while they were swirling. "Only once did I ever discuss it with her, and Diana was in tears about it," Wharfe wrote.
Additionally, in a 2017 interview with Sunday Night, Hewitt denied the allegations that he was secretly Harry’s father, and even expressed his remorse at those rumors. "It sells papers," he said of the gossip. "It’s worse for him probably, poor chap." So, there you have it. Diana and Hewitt might have had an intense love affair, but there was no love child.