James Hewitt Biography

(British Army Officer Who Had an Affair With Princess Diana)

Birthday: April 30, 1958 (Taurus)

Born In: Derry, Northern Ireland

James Hewitt is a British former cavalry officer who came under intense public scrutiny after he revealed his affair with Diana, Princess of Wales. At that time, Diana was still married to then-Prince Charles. A graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Hewitt joined the British Army after enlisting in the Brigade of Guards. He met Princess Diana in 1986 and the two apparently had an instant connection. He told her he was a riding instructor, and she shared her fear of riding. James Hewitt decided to help Diana overcome this long-held fear and began teaching her to ride horses. Their association soon became a full-fledged affair. It is believed that Charles was aware of their affair and even encouraged it in order to distract the public attention from his own affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. The relationship between Diana and Hewitt continued for five years. Their affair continued even during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, in which Hewitt was serving as a tank commander. Many passionate letters were exchanged between them during this time. Eventually, Hewitt’s career commitments came between the couple and they ended their relationship. He retired from the British Army in 1994 and became a businessman.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In April

Also Known As: James Lifford Hewitt

Age: 64 Years, 64 Year Old Males


father: John Alfred Hewitt

mother: Shirley Stamp

Born Country: Northern Ireland

British Men Taurus Men

Height: 1.83 m

Notable Alumni: Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

More Facts

education: Norwood Preparatory School, Exeter & Millfield School, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

Childhood & Early Life

James Lifford Hewitt was born on 30 April 1958, in Derry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.

His father, John Alfred Hewitt, was a modern pentathlete who competed in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. He was also a captain in the Royal Marines. He married Shirley Stamp, the daughter of a London dental surgeon, in 1956.

James Hewitt went to Norwood Preparatory School in Exeter, following which he attended Millfield, a public school, in Somerset.

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Military Career

James Hewitt joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and upon his graduation, enlisted in the Brigade of Guards as a second lieutenant on 8 April 1978. Two years later, he was promoted to lieutenant.

In October 1981, he was transferred to a special regular commission from a short service commission. Three years later, he was promoted to acting captain.

During the Gulf War in 1991, he served as a Challenger tank squadron commander and oversaw 14 armoured vehicles in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. He received appreciation for his meritorious action in the war.

He attempted to become a major but he failed the exam for promotion three times. After 17 years of service in the military, he retired from the British Army in March 1994. He was granted the rank of major in retirement, in line with common military practice.

Business & Media Career

After leaving the military, James Hewitt struggled to rebuild a successful career as a civilian. In 1994, he opened a golf driving range. However, this venture failed to take off and he was forced to close it down soon after.

In the ensuing years, he appeared in a few reality shows and emerged as the winner of the Channel 5 reality show Back to Reality in 2004. He was a contestant in the celebrity version of The X Factor called The X Factor: Battle of the Stars in 2006.

In May 2006, he appeared in the first episode of the UK Top Gear in Series 8. Along with other celebrities, he participated in setting power lap times around the Top Gear Test Track. According to an anecdote, the show’s presenters failed to recognize him as a “celebrity” upon his arrival.

James Hewitt opened a bar called the Polo House in 2009. It was located in the Golden Mile of Marbella, Spain, a fashionable and luxurious residential area. This venture could not be sustained for long and closed down in 2013.

Relationship with Princess Diana

James Hewitt first met Princess Diana at a party hosted by Diana's lady-in-waiting, Hazel West, in 1986. They had an instant connection and their first conversation was free-flowing and comfortable. This is what attracted both to each other.

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Diana confessed to Hewitt that she was afraid of riding horses. Hewitt, who was a trained riding instructor, offered to give her lessons. Thus began their association, which soon escalated into a full-fledged affair.

Hewitt was also known to Prince Charles and admired him. When Prince Charles came to know of their affair, he chose to encourage it. At that time, Prince Charles was having an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles and wanted to distract Diana from interfering in his relationship with Camilla.

James Hewitt’s relationship with Diana continued for five years. They were deeply in love and kept in touch even when Hewitt was fighting in the Persian Gulf War. Diana wrote him many passionate letters during this time.

Their relationship began to falter in 1989 as Hewitt was unable to give Diana the attention she sought. Despite their issues, the couple carried on their affair for two more years before finally breaking up in 1991. The breakup was devastating for both. Hewitt even considered dying by suicide but didn’t take the extreme step because of his mother’s love.

After Diana’s untimely death in 1997, James Hewitt came into the spotlight due to his affair with her. He became a minor celebrity and was even invited to participate in reality TV shows.

He published a memoir detailing their relationship in 1999. Titled Love and War, the book gave several intimate details about their relationship, including what the couple ate on the day their relationship began. There were plans to serialize the book, but the plans were dropped after Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, protested.

James Hewitt tried to sell 64 personal letters from Diana in 2003. He demanded a price of £10 million for the letters. This act was condemned by many people, including Sarah, Duchess of York. He was criticized for betraying the late Princess Diana’s trust.

Rumours about Prince Harry’s Parentage

There have been rumours that James Hewitt and not Prince Charles is the actual biological father of Prince Harry, Diana’s younger son. However, this rumour was refuted by both Diana and Hewitt.

Hewitt has claimed that he met Princess Diana when Harry was already a toddler, so there is no question of him having fathered the boy. The fact that Prince Harry bears some resemblance to Hewitt kept the rumours afloat for many years.

Family & Personal Life

James Hewitt never married or had children.

He was arrested for the possession of cocaine in 2004. However, he was given a warning and released without charge.

He suffered a heart attack and stroke in May 2017 and was hospitalized. He eventually recovered and returned home.

See the events in life of James Hewitt in Chronological Order

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- James Hewitt Biography
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