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Princess Diana's former love James Hewitt left fighting for life after heart attack and stroke

Mirror logo Mirror 14/05/2017 Janine Yaqoob
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Princess Diana’s former lover James Hewitt was left fighting for his life after suffering a heart attack.

The 58-year-old also had a stroke, suffered further complications and needed an emergency operation.

Doctors gave the former Army officer “just a slim chance” of survival and placed him under intensive care.

But a relative said Hewitt was bravely fighting and the family was hopeful he would pull through.

His illness comes just weeks after he gave a rare interview in which he finally denied long-standing rumours he is Prince Harry’s father.

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In the TV chat he appeared to look thin.

A spokeswoman for Hewitt confirmed he had been unwell when she last spoke to him a fortnight ago.

He is continuing to undergo treatment in Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where he is expected to remain for several weeks.

He was transferred there from ­Derriford Hospital in Plymouth so he could receive care from specialist medics.

The Sunday Mirror understands that Hewitt fell ill around two weeks ago.

He had been waiting to see an NHS consultant for treatment and was on a waiting list.

The relative said: “The family were concerned. He was all set for a procedure when he had a heart attack.

“He had a pre-existing illness, then got seriously ill. Suddenly it got very critical and he was rushed to hospital.

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“It was pretty serious but hopefully we’re all OK now. He is recovering and has been moved to Exeter.”

The ex-Army captain had a five-year affair with Princess Diana, while she was married to Prince Charles.

The pair met at a party in London’s Mayfair in 1986. She was 25, he was 28.

Three years later – in a now iconic image at the height of their affair – she was pictured presenting the Captain and Subalterns Cup to Hewitt after he led his Army polo team to victory at Tidworth.

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Speaking on Australian TV in March, the former Household Cavalry officer opened up about his relationship with Diana and finally addressed the rumours about 32-year-old Prince Harry.

Asked by the host if he was Harry’s biological father, he replied: “No I’m not.”

When pressed further on the persistent whispers, he told the presenter: “It’s worse for him, probably, poor chap.”

The discredited claims about Harry were this month dredged up in the controversial BBC2 drama King Charles III, which repeated the unfounded slur just three months before the 20th ­anniversary of Diana’s death.

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Former royal butler Paul Burrell hit out at the claims, saying it was impossible for Hewitt to have been Harry’s father as he didn’t meet Diana until her youngest son was already a toddler.

The Princess admitted in her famous interview with Martin Bashir, for the BBC’s Panorama programme in 1995, that she had an affair with Hewitt.

The romance flourished at the time Prince Charles was widely reported to have been cheating on Diana with his current wife, Camilla Parker Bowles.

But Diana and her lover were forced apart when Hewitt was sent to Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War.

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They split permanently when their infidelity was exposed in the media. Diana and Prince Charles separated in 1992, divorcing four years later.

Hewitt once admitted he considered committing suicide following his affair with Diana.

He planned to shoot himself during a trip to France – until his mother made him take her along.

He said: “I got in my car and loaded a few things to go to France – to shoot myself. Then my mother insisted on coming. If she hadn’t, I would probably have shot myself.

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“So I owe her my life really. I felt I had let people down – myself, my family, friends, the nation, the Army, my ­regiment. Other than that, no one at all.”

Hewitt retired from the Army in 1994 after 17 years and opened a golf driving range. In 2006 he appeared on a celebrity spin-off of the X Factor as part of a duo with model Rebecca Loos, 39.

In 2009 Hewitt set up trendy bar The Polo House in Marbella, Spain, which subsequently closed in 2013.

He was made bankrupt twice and now lives with widowed mother Shirley in a two-bedroom flat near Exeter.

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Fall of a war hero

Gulf War hero James Hewitt has suffered two decades of despair since his days driving a Porsche around London’s West End.

Nicknamed The Cad, he suffered a spectacular fall from grace after selling the story of his five-year affair with Princess Diana.

They first met in 1986 when she hired the polo-playing cavalry officer to teach her to ride horses.

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The Life Guards veteran caused uproar when he drip-fed intimate details of the pair’s relationship – yet maintained that he would never betray her.

Nearly 20 years on Hewitt has come close to being broke, having lost two businesses.

He earned around £100,000 from Princess In Love, a book based on the pair’s affair. In 1993, he told a US TV show he would sell the entire collection for £10million.

But in 2015 Hewitt tried to sell Diana’s letters - notes which revealed their relationship - for a mere £100,000.

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