A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said that the couple were in a perilous car chase with the paparazzi, which could have ended in disaster.
The car chase happened on May 16 after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left the 2023 Women of Vision Awards held in New York City’s Ziegfeld Ballroom.
Markle was an honouree at the event.
Paparazzi were “highly aggressive”, chase lasted two hours
The chase allegedly lasted two hours, and the couple and Markle’s mother were pursued by “a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi”, the duke’s spokesperson claimed.
The chase, involving around six paparazzi vehicles, also caused several near collisions with other drivers, pedestrians, and police officers.
In an interview with CNN, members of the Sussexes’ security team suggested that the paparazzi wanted to pin down where the couple were staying in New York.
In the process, their vehicles disregarded red lights while pedestrians were on the road, drove into oncoming traffic, and reversed on one-way streets. According to The Guardian, the paparazzi also drove while on the phone and while taking photographs.
The paparazzi even pursued the couple’s convoy on scooters and bicycles. None of the traffic violations caused crashes or fatalities.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) followed the couple in separate vehicles to ensure their safety, although at times they also had to manoeuvre away from the paparazzi.
The security team shared that the chaos of the incident was unprecedented. They pointed out that the recklessness of the paparazzi endangered the public at multiple points in time.
None injured, but couple left shaken
While no one was injured, the couple was left shaken by the incident. They appeared visibly nervous when they were escorted out of their initial vehicle into a taxi that drove them back to their private accommodation.
The Sussexes’ spokesperson highlighted that while the royal couple garners a definite level of public interest, their celebrity should not come at the expense of their safety.
Authorities support Harry and Meghan’s account of the chase
The NYPD corroborated the couple’s account, albeit in less flowery terms.
Julian Phillips, the NYPD deputy commissioner for public information, acknowledged “there were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging”.
Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, condemned the incident as “reckless” and “irresponsible”. He pointed out that “public safety must always be at the forefront” despite the paparazzi’s aims.
Chase resembles circumstances of Diana’s death
Adams noted the similarities between this incident and circumstances surrounding the death of Prince Harry’s late mother, Diana.
The then-Princess of Wales famously succumbed to injuries from a 1997 Paris car crash. According to the BBC, the accident was reportedly caused by a paparazzi car chase as well.
Prince Harry has been open about his negative views on paparazzi. He has often paralleled the media’s treatment of his mother and his wife, characterising the media frenzy faced by both women as “the hunter versus the prey”.
He has highlighted how difficult it has been to witness both women suffer harassment from the media. He has further vocalised fears of history repeating itself, which ultimately contributed to the couple’s step back from their duties as senior royals.
The Guardian reported that Prince Harry is currently engaged in multiple court cases in London, in which he alleged that several media outlets have slandered or illegally gathered information about his family.
Top photos via Archewell and Kevin Galerken/Pexels