It’s probably hard to think of a more despicable betrayal of a child’s confidence than hoarding their letters for 30 years before trying to sell them to the highest bidder, but James Hewitt, the once-dashing cavalry officer who became Princess Diana’s lover, stands accused of having done just that.
It was reported at the weekend that Hewitt—who now lives in reduced circumstances with his mother in a two-bedroom flat in Devon according to the Daily Mail—attempted to sell thank-you cards written to him by a young Prince William for £15,000.
The Los Angeles-based dealer who was acting for Hewitt, Gary Zimet, told the Mail, “I was told privacy was paramount because Hewitt was worried about the fall-out if it became public. He needs money, pure and simple.”
Today’s Times quotes Zimet as saying that the sale fell through because the letters had ‘bad juju’ about them.
Mr Zimet told the paper that although he originally contacted Hewitt, after a period of silence he received an email offering to sell just two cards sent by Prince William. Sent by Hewitt’s friend Alan Darlow, the email states: “Hi Gary, just spoken to James. If you personally want the two William and Harry cards he wants 15,000 each.”
One card, sent in April 1988 and signed “with love from William and Harry”, thanks Mr Hewitt for a “lovely morning” climbing on tanks, playing snooker and playing with guns.
The card is fronted by a picture of five chimpanzees labeled “Mummy, Reg, Harry, Ruth [and] William”. Another card wishes Mr Hewitt a happy birthday.
Mr Darlow put an ingenious spin on the email, telling The Times that Mr Hewitt was “totally fed up” with Mr Zimet’s persistence and “he had made it quite clear he did not wish to sell. He therefore gave him a high figure to discourage him.”
Jon Conway, the playwright who worked with Hewitt to produce the play ‘Truth, Lies and Diana’—which Hewitt used to claim that his affair with Diana pre-dated the birth of Prince Harry, rather than beginning in 1986 as is often claimed—told The Daily Beast that it was “impossible for James Hewitt to get a fair hearing” and argued that the media were displaying double standards by castigating Hewitt for offering the letters for sale yet quoting the text of the letters being offered.
“It’s his property and he can do what he likes with it. There is an establishment effort to make sure James is kept ‘out’. I interviewed [notorious British gangland thug] Reggie Kray in prison three times and he was the most dreadful human being I have ever met. Yet the media portray Hewitt as infinitely worse than him. Anything he says or does is going to be reported negatively.”
Hewitt has previously cashed in on his Diana letters, reportedly to the tune of £100,000, when he allowed author Anna Pasternak to use them as the basis for her book Princess In Love, written about the relationship.
Although Hewitt has claimed his affair with Diana began before Prince Harry’s birth in 1984, it is frequently claimed that they actually met in 1986 and were an item until 1992.
One of the letters, offered by Zimet, written by Diana in March 1988, begins: “Dearest James, You have just left & it all seems very empty here to me & that includes one bottle of champagne, too! It was wonderful to see you.”
Another letter, written by Diana, dated December 1987 tells him: “If by any chance you want to get in touch, the BP (Buckingham Palace) switchboard will know exactly where I am, even if I don’t.”
Some cards are signed ‘with much love’ and ‘kissey kissey’.