Princess Diana admitted to having an affair with James Hewitt when her marriage to King Charles III hit the rocks.
There have been longstanding rumors about Prince Harry’s paternity due to this affair and the physical similarities between him and James.
However, James said he wasn’t Harry’s father, and Charles also assured Harry that he was his dad.
Princess Diana and King Charles III, who went by Prince Charles then, got married on July 28, 1981. The pair had two kids, Prince William, who was born on June 21, 1982, and Prince Harry, born on September 15, 1984.
Diana and Charles’s marriage didn’t last as they had irreconcilable differences and a messy separation in December 1992. Their divorce was finalized in August 1996. Still, before Charles and Diana parted ways, she was rumored to have had an affair with James Hewitt.
The affair between Diana and James, an ex-Life Guards officer, reportedly happened two years after Harry was born. Still, many people have called into question Harry’s paternity, as they believe James, who was Diana’s riding instructor, is his birth father and not Charles.
People who doubted who the real father of Harry pointed out the striking similarity in appearance between Harry and James. Both have ginger hair and bear a strong resemblance to each other, sparking speculation about their biological connection.
The timelines of the affair between Diana and James also fueled the doubts about Harry’s paternity. As much as Harry was born two years before the affair started, conspiracy theorists still call into question his paternity over the years.
The theories regarding Harry’s paternity hold more weight because both Diana and James have openly spoken about and admitted to their affair. British journalist Anna Pasternak worked with James to write and release the book “Princess in Love,” where he said he was Diana’s lover from 1986 to 1991.
In James’s recollection of their affair, the timeline is somewhat unclear, but he implied that he and Diana began their relationship around late 1986, shortly after meeting at a late-summer gathering in Mayfair, where he volunteered to teach her riding. Diana was 25, while James was 28.
At this time, Diana’s marriage to Charles was strained. The two hadn’t seen each other for 39 consecutive days, and Charles was in the process of rekindling his own affair with Queen Camilla.
So, with Diana and James spending little time together, she sought solace in weekly riding lessons with the ex-Life Guards at Windsor’s Combermere Barracks. There, she confided in him about her loneliness and the challenges of her marriage.
James described responding to Diana’s emotional distress as if it were the cry of a wounded animal. When Diana reached out to touch his hand, he alleged to have reassured her, saying, “You are not alone. You have me.” James claimed to have had a physical relationship with Diana.
Five years after James asserted the affair started, his ex-girlfriend Emma Stewardson expressed her distress over his relationship with Diana to the press. During the same period, The Sun published reports of secret meetings between Diana and James, claiming they had a “physical relationship.”
In September 1992, James’s groom, Lance Cpl. Malcolm Leete disclosed witnessing the two in an embrace in the riding school arena at Windsor in the fall of 1988.
During a BBC Panorama program in 1995, Diana admitted to having an affair with James and being in love with him. James confirmed this statement in an interview, “It was never her intention to fall in love with me, and it was certainly not my intention to fall in love with Diana, but it happened because of the circumstances throwing us together.”
James expressed uncertainty about the extent to which Diana desired the relationship to become physical. He refrained from assigning blame and emphasized that their relationship “developed and it was mutual.”
Diana and James’s affair ended when she stopped taking his phone calls. Still, James was so open about the affair after it ended that he reportedly considered selling 10 out of 64 private letters from Diana, which he said were “extremely well written, loving and nothing to be ashamed of” for approximately $5.4 million.
James is now 65-years-old. At 58, he suffered a heart attack and a stroke and was given a slim chance of survival by his doctors. Luckily, he got back on his feet after making a good recovery, left the Royal Devon and Exter Hospital, and said he wanted to get on with his life. James was discharged to the home he shared with his mother, a two-bedroom flat in a former country house near Exeter.
In 2017, James was interviewed and asked point blank whether he was Harry’s father, and he denied the claim. “No, I am not,” answered James. He noted that speculations went on for years because it sold papers, adding that the rumors about Diana’s son’s paternity were probably more heartbreaking to Harry than to him. “Poor champ,” said James.
Still, some online users believe that Harry is James’s son and not Charles’s. These users commented recently on social media when Charles was diagnosed with cancer, and Harry made plans to see him. “Prince Harry has rushed to be with James Hewitt after learning the kings cancer diagnosis?” a person asked sarcastically.
“Harry’s father is James Hewitt, his pretend father is King Charles:),” commented another X user, while one more individual agreed, “True. Harry’s dad is James Hewitt. But we don’t talk about that.”
In his memoir “Spare,” Harry wrote about how his dad used to joke about the question of his paternity. Charles would say, “Who knows if I’m even your real father? Maybe your real father is in Broadmoor, darling boy!”
Harry didn’t find his father’s questions amusing. He wrote, “He’d laugh and laugh, though it was a remarkably unfunny joke, given the rumor circulating just then that my actual father was one of Mummy’s former lovers: Major James Hewitt.”
Harry pointed out that people hang to this idea because, just like James, he had ginger hair, and they had other physical similarities. He added that the issue made news repeatedly because tabloid readers were excited by the idea that Charles’s youngest son wasn’t his.
As per Harry, even though the tabloids knew that his mother didn’t meet James until after he was born, they didn’t stop, as the story was just too good to drop.
Harry also admitted that his dad gave him a heart-to-heart talk reassuring him that James wasn’t his father. “If Pa had any thoughts about Major Hewitt, he kept them to himself,” added Harry.
Now, James, Harry, and Charles have made it clear that the former Life Guards isn’t his father. Still, Harry and his father have had a strained relationship for years, even though he once admitted that he wanted his father back.
How Has the Relationship between King Charles and Prince Harry Changed since Princess Diana’s Death?
The bond between Harry and King has always been complicated, characterized by distance, tension, and misunderstanding. However, the recent revelation of the King’s cancer diagnosis, which he shared with his sons before making it public, may have initiated a new phase of reconciliation and healing for the father-son duo.
Born as the second son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry’s early life was marked by a sense of being sidelined within the royal family. In his book, aptly titled “Spare,” Harry recounts a comment his father allegedly made on the day of his birth.
Charles reportedly told Diana, “Wonderful! Now you’ve given me an Heir and a Spare — my work is done.” Growing up, Harry felt a disconnect with his father, who was much older and less playful than Diana. He writes, “I’d resolved not to become my father. He’d been an older dad, and I’d always felt that this created problems, placed barriers between us.”
The death of Diana in a car crash left a young Harry and his older brother William in grief. Harry writes about his father’s reaction, “He wasn’t great at showing emotions under normal circumstances; how could he be expected to show them in such a crisis?”
Harry, William, and Charles found a common interest in sports, particularly polo. In a 2006 interview with Ant and Dec, Charles shared that he used to play polo with both his sons and that they are all very competitive.
Charles also demonstrated his affection for Harry by assisting him in selecting the orchestra for his wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018. However, the father-son relationship faced a significant test when Harry and Meghan made the decision in 2020 to step back from their senior royal roles and move to North America with their child.
The couple expressed their intentions in a statement, explaining that after much reflection and discussion, they decided to carve out a new role within the institution of the Royal
Family. Their goal was to attain financial independence while still fully supporting the Queen.
The couple outlined their plan to divide their time between the United Kingdom and North America. They believed this arrangement would allow them to fulfill their obligations to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and their patronages.
They also felt this would provide their son with an understanding of the royal tradition he was born into while giving their family the space to focus on their next chapter, including the establishment of a new charitable entity.
In a subsequent interview, Harry disclosed that they had initially proposed a plan to the Queen, Charles, and William. However, upon discussion, he was presented with five options, ranging from fully committing to royal duties to completely stepping away.
He opted for a middle ground, a half-in, half-out approach, which would allow them to have their own careers while still supporting the queen. Harry expressed, “It became very clear very quickly that goal was not up for discussion or debate. It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me, and my father say things that just simply weren’t true, and my grandmother quietly sit there and sort of take it all in.”
In their interview with Oprah Winfrey after stepping down from royal duties, Harry and Meghan discussed a variety of topics, including their media portrayal. They accused the royal family of ignoring their mental health, propagating untruths, and financially ostracizing them.
They cited the absence of support and protection from the royal institution and the adverse and racially prejudiced press coverage as the primary reasons for their departure. Harry also mentioned that his father had stopped communicating with him, leaving him feeling “let down.”
He suggested that his father and brother were “trapped” within the system. During her pregnancy with their son Archie, Meghan shared with Winfrey that there were ongoing discussions about the child’s future security and title. She also mentioned that there were concerns about the possible skin tone of their unborn child.
Taken aback, Winfrey inquired about the nature of these conversations. Meghan confirmed that there were multiple discussions about the potential skin color of their baby and the implications it might have.
Harry expressed his willingness to mend the rift with his family, stating, “The ball is in their court. There’s a lot to be discussed, and I really hope that they are willing to sit down and talk about it.” He affirmed his belief in the monarchy but was uncertain about his future role in it, saying, “I don’t know.”
He also expressed a longing to reconnect, saying, “I would like to get my father back. I would like to have my brother back.” After the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, Charles ascended to the throne as King Charles III. In his inaugural address to the United Kingdom in September 2022, he honored his late mother and pledged his commitment to the people of the U.K.
Upon confirming the new roles and titles for William and his wife Catherine, he took a moment to acknowledge his son, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his daughter-in-law, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. He expressed his affection for Harry and Meghan, acknowledging their efforts to establish their lives overseas.
In November 2023, royal expert Omid Scobie said, “There is more warmth between Harry and Meghan and Charles than other family members.” According to his book, “Endgame,” this warmth has grown since they moved away from the country. Scobie noted that it took time to reach this point.
Scobie mentioned that Harry often took the initiative to reach out. Sources close to Harry indicated that while he understands his father may never want to discuss certain past experiences, he doesn’t want to sever ties with his father completely. Scobie also revealed that Meghan frequently shares photos of their children with Charles.
On February 5, 2024, Buckingham Palace announced that King Charles had been diagnosed with a form of cancer discovered during his recent treatment for an enlarged prostate. The king initiated a regular treatment schedule and postponed his public duties to focus on his recovery.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed relief that the illness was detected early. The palace stated that the king had personally informed his sons about his diagnosis before the public announcement. Prince Harry, who hadn’t seen his father since his coronation in 2023, returned to the UK from California to be with him.
Harry was photographed entering the gates of Clarence House, the King’s London residence. After an 11-hour flight from Los Angeles to London, Harry was seen in the back of a black SUV. The reunion was brief, lasting around 45 minutes, after which King Charles and Queen Camilla left London for his country estate in Sandringham by helicopter.
Harry appeared to be returning to the United States the following day. A source close to the royal household told People, “That is good,” expressing hope that Harry would bring the grandchildren to visit at some point, as it would be a joy for all of them.