Is Prince Harry’s Father James Hewitt? Behind Princess Diana’s Affair

With the new lawsuit against tabloids, Prince Harry’s rumored father James Hewitt has been making headlines again.

James Hewitt had an affair with Harry’s mother Princess Diana after they met at a party in 1986, 5 years after her wedding to the then-Prince Charles. According to Ken Wharfe’s 2002 book  Diana: A Closely Guarded Secret, the duo “got along famously” during their first talk. “He told her he was a riding instructor and, when she confessed she was afraid of horses, offered to help her overcome her fear.” The affair ended in the early 1990s and Diana admitted to the affair in her interview with BBC’s Martin Bashir. “Yes, I adored him. Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down,” she said, referring to a tell-all book by Anna Pasternak where Hewitt earned a large sum advance for the book.

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Is Prince Harry’s father really James Hewitt? Read what we know from the lawsuit and Harry and James’s own words.

Is Prince Harry’s father James Hewitt?

Prince Charles, James Hewitt
Prince Charles and James Hewitt

Is Prince Harry’s father James Hewitt? No, James Hewitt is not Prince Harry’s father. In fact, Princess Diana met James two years after Harry’s birth.

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In a statement during his lawsuit against Britain’s Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) on June 6, 2023, Via The Daily Beast, the Duke of Sussex wrote, “Numerous newspapers had reported a rumour that my biological father was James Hewitt, a man my mother had a relationship with after I was born. At the time of this article and others similar to it, I wasn’t actually aware that my mother hadn’t met Major Hewitt until after I was born. This timeline is something I only learned of in around 2014, although I now understand this was common knowledge amongst the defendant’s journalists.”

“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. They were hurtful, mean and cruel. I was always left questioning the motives behind the stories. Were the newspapers keen to put doubt into the minds of the public so I might be ousted from the Royal Family?”

Harry spoke about the rumors that Hewitt was his father in his memoir, Spare, writing: “There was even talk that some reporters were seeking my DNA to prove it—my first intimation that, after tormenting my mother and sending her int hiding, they would soon be coming for me.”

Prince Harry goes into further detail about how his father used to make fun of him with the rumor in his 2023 memoir. “Pa liked telling stories, and this was one of the best in his repertoire. He’d always end with a burst of philosophizing … Who knows if I’m really the Prince of Wales? Who knows if I’m even your real father?” 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. One cause of this rumor was Major Hewitt’s flaming ginger hair, but another cause was sadism.”

Though, Charles never talked about the rumors with Harry directly. “Maybe it made them feel better about their lives that a young prince’s life was laughable. Never mind that my mother didn’t meet Major Hewitt until long after I was born,” he added.

Prince Harry

Prince Harry is suing Mirror Group Newspapers who run the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People or damages, claiming journalists were linked to methods including phone-hacking, gaining information by deception and use of private investigators for unlawful activities. One such article was titled to “Plot to rob the DNA of Harry.” Harry said the article “reported a plot to steal a sample of my DNA to test my parentage.”

“My experience as a member of the Royal Family, each of us gets cast into a specific role by the tabloid press,” Harry said in the statement. “You start off as a blank canvas while they work out what kind of person you are and what kind of problems and temptations you might have. They then start to edge you towards playing the role or roles that suit them best and which sells as many newspapers as possible, especially if you are the ‘spare’ to the ‘heir’. You’re then either the ‘playboy prince’, the ‘failure’, the ‘drop out’ or, in my case, the ‘thicko’, the ‘cheat’, the ‘underage drinker’, the ‘irresponsible drug taker’, the list goes on.

“As a teenager and in my early twenties, I ended up feeling as though I was playing up to a lot of the headlines and stereotypes that they wanted to pin on me mainly because I thought that, if they are printing this rubbish about me and people were believing it, I may as well ‘do the crime’, so to speak.

“It was a downward spiral, whereby the tabloids would constantly try and coax me, a ‘damaged’ young man, into doing something stupid that would make a good story and sell lots of newspapers. Looking back on it now, such behavior on their part is utterly vile.”

In 2002, James Hewitt gave a statement to the Sunday Mirror newspaper about the rumors. “I have been aware for a while that the issue of Harry’s paternity has been a major talking point. There really is no possibility whatsoever that I am Harry’s father. I can understand the interest, but Harry was already walking by the time my relationship with Diana began.”

“Admittedly the red hair is similar to mine and people say we look alike,” Hewitt added. “Looking at the pictures I would say he is a much more handsome chap than I ever was.”

Spare by Prince Harry

Spare by Prince Harry
Courtesy of: Random House

For more about Prince Harry, read his upcoming memoir, Spare. Told for the first time in his own words, the book takes readers through the Duke of Sussex’s life with the British royal family, from the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 to how the moment led to his decision decades later to move to America with his wife, Meghan Markle, and leave Buckingham Palace for good in 2020. “With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief,” the publisher’s description reads.

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