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Royal Watch

updated 03/21/1994 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/21/1994 01:00AM

MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT

As tell-alls go, it was hardly a scorcher. When former cavalry officer Maj. James Hewitt—the ladies' man whose name has been linked with Princess Diana's—sold his story to London's Daily Express for a reported $150,000, he coyly stopped short of saying that he had even kissed the princess. In a series that debuted on March 1, the 35-year-old Hewitt—a riding instructor who took Di on as a pupil in 1988—admits only that he found her "attractive" and that she once collapsed in his arms, sobbing over her unhappy marriage.

Surprisingly Hewitt's tact won him few friends—rival tabloids, for example, pegged him as a tease. Dubbing him Major Weasel, the Evening Standard noted, "If he'd come on as a real kiss-and-tell tart, it might have seemed more honorable." Other papers turned the tables with lurid tales about Hewitt's ambitious romantic past, which included a flirtation with TV weathercaster Sally Faber who is now embroiled in a divorce). For her part, Di is said to be furious about Hewitt's tale. Although he claims that the two still speak, one of her chums told The Sun, "He is a traitor—the princess took him into her confidence. It's enough to say he is no longer her friend."

THE HIGHWAYWOMAN
Princess Diana created a different sort of stir when she played Good Samaritan last month at the entrance to an elevated expressway near London. Driving back to London alone alter visiting princes William, 11, and Harry, 9, at Ludgrove school on Feb. 27, she stopped at twilight to help an elderly couple whose car had broken down. After calling the Automobile Association on her mobile phone, she stayed with the couple until help arrived. Scotland Yard was not amused. Since she has cast off her detectives, authorities noted, Di would have been defenseless had the breakdown been a terrorist trap.

OFF-PISTE
After pleading with the media to leave him and girlfriend Sophie Rhys-Jones in peace, Prince Edward, 30, has canceled an Austrian ski trip with his squeeze (a 29-year-old public relations consultant) in late March because Di—and the paparazzi—arc set to be at a neighboring resort at the same time. According to The Sun, "Sophie is said to be heartbroken that their first holiday has been canceled. But Edward warned her that Di's presence would turn their 'quiet' holiday into a media circus."

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