Prince Harry and his wife Meghan were involved in a chaotic car chase with the paparazzi in New York on Tuesday night, which their spokesperson accused of having a “disastrous” outcome.
Sussex was followed by photographers after leaving the Women of Vision Awards at the city’s Ziegfeld Ballroom in a procession that included Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland. The couple was left shaken by the incident, though no one was ultimately hurt, their security detail told CNN.
Police said the “numerous” photographers made Sussex traffic “challenging” but no collisions, injuries or arrests were reported.
According to the couple’s account, the argument with the photographers went on and on and violated several traffic rules. “Last night, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Mrs Ragland were involved in a disastrous car chase at the hands of a very aggressive paparazzi,” said a spokesperson for the couple.
“This relentless pursuit, which lasted more than two hours, led to multiple collisions on the roadway involving other drivers, pedestrians and two NYPD officers.”
A member of the couple’s defense team, Chris Sanchez, Speaking exclusively to CNN, said the incident was disturbing. “I’ve never seen or experienced anything like this,” he said. “What we were dealing with was quite a mess. There were about a dozen vehicles: cars, scooters and bicycles.
The Sussexes were scared – but relieved when they got back to their apartment, he said. “Civilians were at risk in many places. It could have been dangerous,” Sanchez said.
He later said the two switched cars during the car chase.
Selcak Akar/Anatolia Agency/Getty Images
Prince Harry and Meghan say they were chased by photographers for two hours after leaving an event in New York.
In a statement, the New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed the outline of Sussex’s account, but described it in less colorful language. The NYPD “assisted a private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex” on Tuesday evening and “several photographers challenged their traffic,” said Julian Phillips, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for public information.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests,” he said.
A spokesperson for the couple said, “Being a public figure comes with a public interest that should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety” and urged the media not to publish photos of the incident. “The dissemination of these images, given the means by which they were obtained, encourages a highly invasive practice that is dangerous for all concerned.”
According to the account provided by the couple’s group, about half a dozen blackout vehicles with unidentified people drove recklessly, endangering the convoy and everyone around them.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Doria Ragland, Duke of Sussex and Duchess of Sussex at the Women of Vision Awards in New York City.
A local law enforcement source corroborated some of the couple’s account, telling CNN that they were followed by a “swarm” of paparazzi in cars, motorcycles and scooters after they left the event on Tuesday. A New York Police Department (NYPD) security team followed Harry and Meghan in another car and were forced to do some evasive maneuvers to escape the paparazzi, the source said.
Paparazzi on scooters and bikes regularly zoomed down the sidewalk, the source said. There were several close calls, including short stops between the front and rear of the cars, but none resulted in accidents, the source added.
The couple’s convoy was taken to a police compound where they were able to regroup, the source added.
Both King Charles’ Buckingham Palace and Prince William’s Kensington Palace told CNN they would not comment on the incident.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams called the incident “irresponsible” and “irresponsible.”
“You shouldn’t go anywhere too fast, but this is a densely populated city, all of us, and I don’t think there are many of us who don’t remember how his mom died,” Adams said when asked by reporters. Incident at an unrelated conference.
“Obviously the paparazzi want to get the right shot, they want to get the right story, but public safety always comes first,” Adams said.
The Duke of Sussex has been vocal about his family’s defense, often highlighting the parallels between his wife’s treatment and that faced by his mother, Diana. The late Princess of Wales died of internal injuries as a result of a high-speed car crash in Paris in 1997.
In the couple’s Netflix six-part documentary, Harry pushed back against critics who said the couple had trouble with the paparazzi.
“In my mom’s day, it was physical harassment — cameras in your face, following you, chasing you,” she said.
“The paparazzi are still harassing people,” he added. “But online harassment is rampant now. Once the photos are released and the stories are followed, social media frenzy ensues. Seeing another woman I love in my life, going through this food frenzy – it’s hard. It’s basically predator and prey.”