Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have allegedly been involved in a harrowing “near catastrophic car chase” with New York paparazzi on Tuesday, May 16.
A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess claims that the couple were leaving the Women of Vision Awards closely behind Meghan’s mother, Dorian Ragland, when “numerous” photographers made the journey “challenging”.
Per the couple’s account, the altercation was “relentless” and “aggressive,” which left them shaken, although ultimately injury free.
“Last night, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Ms Ragland were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi,” the couple’s spokesperson said.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers.
“While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety.”
BREAKING: In a situation eerily similar to what caused Princess Diana’s death, her son, Prince Harry, wife Meghan Markle and Meghan’s mother were nearly in a ‘catastrophic accident’ as paparazzi chased the car they were in on Tuesday in New York.
– The incident took… pic.twitter.com/rzS3iXZRDS
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) May 17, 2023
A statement released by New York Police Department (NYPD) deputy commissioner, Julian Phillips, confirmed the couple’s account, saying they had “assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex” but “numerous photographers that made their transport challenging.”
Despite this, Phillips said, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard.”
However, a police source has told ABC News that the event was not as dire as the Sussexes’ described it.
The source says the chase had far fewer paparazzi than what the Sussexes’ spokesperson claims, and that the interaction would not have been more than 20 minutes.
According to them, if the episode lasted the two hours as Meghan and Harry claim it did, then it was likely because NYPD detectives felt it safest to take a circuitous route back to the couple’s hotel.
Nonetheless, the source didn’t brush off the idea that the incident may have been frightening for those involved.
Footage obtained by TMZ shows Harry and Meghan riding in the backseat of a yellow taxi, which had driven at a speed of 80 miles per hour on the highway.
This is the video of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s alleged “near catastrophic crash.” ????????⬇️
The Sussex’s ditched their 4 vehicle motorcade to get into a Taxi for a photo op.
They had multiple NYPD vehicles escorting the taxi in a heavily guarded secure motorcade.
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) May 17, 2023
The taxi driver, Sukhcharn Singh, had told the Washington Post he wouldn’t call the incident a “chase”, saying he felt safe during the ride.
He also told Talk TV this involvement in the alleged two-hour event was approximately only 10 minutes.
The highly scrutinised couple have often vocalised their distrust of the tabloids, with Prince Harry in particular, often highlighting paralleled between the media’s treatment of his wife to that of his late mother, Princess Diana of Wales, who died in 1997 after a high-speed car chase with paparazzi’s in Paris.
In the couple’s six-part Netflix series, the Duke of Sussex defended his wife against critics who claimed they are the ones causing issues with the media.
“Back in my mum’s day, it was physical harassment – cameras in your face, following you, chasing you,” he said.
“Paparazzi still harass people,” he added. “But the harassment really exists more online now. Once the photographs are out and the stories then put next to it, then comes the social media harassment. To see another woman in my life, who I love, go through this feeding frenzy – that’s hard. It is basically the hunter versus the prey.”