James Hewitt and Princess Diana in 1989
May 15, 2017 12:59 PM

James Hewitt, the onetime love of the late Princess Diana, is said to be improving in the hospital after reportedly suffering a heart attack and stroke.

The former army captain, 59, was taken to a hospital near his home in Devon, western England, over the weekend, according to reports.

His spokeswoman has not heard from him, but tells PEOPLE she has heard from a mutual friend that he was ill and had been taken to the hospital.

“The last time I was in contact with him was a few weeks ago and he said he was feeling unwell,” the spokeswoman adds. “He said he thought he had a bug and was resting in bed.”

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The first she heard about the news of his current condition was when she was contacted by a British newspaper on Saturday, she says. The report said that he needed an emergency operation following a heart attack and a stroke.

A spokesman at The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital declined to comment. 

A family member tells The Daily Mirror, “He’s getting better, from what we know. He was a very fit man in his youth so we’re all sure he’ll pull through.” 

Hewitt, who was last seen in public at a horse show near his home about a month ago, was notorious in the early ’90s as one of the players in the saga of the demise of the royal marriage of Prince Charles and Diana. He met the princess in 1986 at a party in London and taught her to overcome her fear of riding horses. He later said their relationship started several months after the initial meeting.

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Hewitt was a tank commander in the first Gulf War of 1990-91 but came under fire for sharing details of their relationship in a tell-all book. And in 2003, he tried to sell more than 60 letters Diana had sent him.

When he released his own memoir, Love and War, in 1999, he told PEOPLE he was “trying to move on.”

“There has been so much rubbish written about me—I wanted to tell the truth,” he added. 

In the years that followed his notoriety post-Diana, Hewitt opened a riding school in Devon, and then a polo-themed bar in Marbella. But in recent years, he has lived at home as a companion for his mother Shirley, 85. 

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