Ladies of a certain age might need to reach for the smelling salts. A year after severing his ties with Britain and declaring that he felt more European than British, James Hewitt is coming home.
But, thanks to a remarkable transformation in his fortunes, the copper-haired cad is coming back not with his tail between his legs but as a partner in a successful business.
Princess Diana’s former lover has been based on Spain’s Costa del Sol on and off for the past five years and last year opened a polo-themed bar and restaurant in Marbella.
Smiles again: James Hewitt is to launch a Polo themed restaurant in London
After a slow start it has proved a popular spot and Hewitt, whose previous commercial adventures ended in disaster, has turned out to have a business brain after all.
Buoyed by their success, Hewitt and his partner Ram Nandkishore plan to bring the Polo House to London and are looking for properties in Mayfair and Chelsea.
‘We are also looking at Los Angeles and Dubai. Since I know London so well, it makes sense for me to be doing it there,’ says former cavalry officer Hewitt.
He previously invested in a Docklands golf driving range and a riding school before some tacky adventures in reality television and cashing in on his relationship with Diana by selling his memoirs.
‘I have made mistakes, of course I have,’ Hewitt tells me.
‘I know I said I was quitting Britain, but that was because I felt I was hated there.
‘What I have been struck by is the reaction from our customers, who are predominantly British.
They say to me 'Well, we don’t hate you' and 'Why don’t you open a place like this back home?' ’
Last year, Hewitt likened himself to a gypsy when he melodramatically told me he had been ‘cast out’ by the world and felt he didn’t belong anywhere.
Two years ago, Hewitt sold his Chelsea flat, but is now looking to start again.
A friend of the Life Guards officer — mentioned in dispatches in the first Gulf War — says: ‘He took a huge gamble out in Marbella, but against the odds it’s been a success when people said it was mad to open a restaurant at a time of recession.
‘James realises he is not quite public enemy number one any more and is coming back not as a loser but as a winner.’
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