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British Tabloid Prints Allegations of Affair With Princess

October 03, 1994|WILLIAM TUOHY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONDON — A former army officer has claimed that he was Princess Diana's lover for three years before she separated from Prince Charles, the British tabloid press reported Sunday.

Former Maj. James Hewitt, an officer in the elite Life Guards of the Royal Household Cavalry Regiment, was said to recount the affair in a book that reportedly will be dispatched to British booksellers today.

Publishing circles have hinted that Hewitt, 36, was given a multimillion-dollar advance for his story --which he will seek to confirm with love letters sent to him by Diana, 33.

Other journalists who cover the Royal Family argued Sunday that although Hewitt and Diana were close friends, they were not intimate.

In June, Charles admitted on television that he had been unfaithful to his wife before their official separation in December, 1992.

In the tabloid News of the World on Sunday, Hewitt was reported saying that he and the princess became close friends when he was assigned to teach her to ride horses--and then became lovers.

"We were deeply in love," Hewitt reportedly said. "In fact, Diana was so in love with me that she even contemplated leaving Prince Charles for me."

He added: "For three years, I was the man in her life. It got so serious that I was warned to stay away from her."

Asked by the paper's reporters if he had ever made love to Diana, Hewitt answered with a "terse but emphatic yes," they said.

Hewitt's book, prepared with the aid of a ghost writer, is expected to appear after a secret writing and printing operation by the publisher, Bloomsbury.

The book is believed to contain extracts from intimate letters sent to the major by the princess during the Persian Gulf War, according to the News of the World.

It is common knowledge that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the princess was fond of Hewitt, who served with the Life Guards tank forces in the Gulf War and was commended for valor.

Hewitt returned from the Gulf as an acting major, but he repeatedly failed to pass his written examinations for permanent promotion to major and had to retire from the army last spring after 17 years.

Friends say he has no outside income except for money received from selling interviews in previous articles outlining his friendship with Diana. But in those stories, he did not claim to have had an affair with her.

Britain's tabloid press Sunday accused Hewitt of "betraying" the princess and quoted Member of Parliament Nicholas Bonsor as declaring: "Hewitt's behavior is abominable. He is the biggest bounder I have ever come across. I cannot comprehend how he can still look at himself in the mirror."

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