LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and his mother were involved in a „catastrophic” car chase with press photographers after attending an awards ceremony in New York, Harry’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman said the incident involved a „highly aggressive ring of paparazzi” in half a dozen cars with tinted windows, driving dangerously and endangering the lives of the couple and Doria Ragland.
„This relentless pursuit, which lasted more than two hours, led to multiple collisions involving other drivers, pedestrians and two NYPD (New York Police Department) officers on the road,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The couple – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – were left shaken by the incident but otherwise unharmed.
The NYPD did not downplay the incident, saying it assisted a private security team protecting them.
NYPD chief spokesman Julian Phillips said in a statement that „many photographers have turned their traffic into a challenge.” „The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests.”
The Washington Post quoted taxi driver Suksharn Singh as saying he drove the group and a security guard around for about 10 minutes before returning to the police station to pick them up at the security guard’s request.
„I don’t think I would call it a chase,” Singh was quoted as saying, as two vehicles followed them and pulled up next to the car, taking pictures and filming.
„I never felt like I was in danger. It wasn’t like a car chase in a movie. They (the couple) were calm and looked scared but it’s New York – it’s safe.”
Pictures on social media showed Harry, Meghan and his mother sitting in the back of a New York taxi, which their spokesperson said was „a glimpse into the security and deceptions required to end harassment”.
After following their car out of the Ziegfeld Ballroom in midtown Manhattan, media reported the couple switched to a taxi to try to wave off photographers.
He was blamed for the death of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a 1997 limousine crash while speeding away from chasing paparazzi in Paris.
A spokeswoman for the couple said Tuesday’s chase was dangerous and involved paparazzi driving on sidewalks, running red lights and driving while taking pictures.
The spokesperson said those involved were confronted several times by police officers.
Chris Sanchez, a member of the couple’s defense team, told CNN he was concerned members of the public might have been injured.
„I’ve never seen or experienced anything like this,” he said. „It was quite a mess we were dealing with. There were about a dozen vehicles: cars, scooters and bicycles.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he received an explanation that two NYPD officers may have been injured in the incident.
„I don’t think there are many of us who don’t remember how her mother died and how she died,” Adams told reporters. „To lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this is horrible and something happened to them too.”
He said he would have an in-depth explanation later, but found it hard to believe there would have been a two-hour high-speed chase.
„If it’s 10 minutes, a 10-minute chase in New York City is very dangerous,” Adams said.
The Ms Foundation for Women, organizers of an awards ceremony honoring Meghan’s work, said they were horrified by the episode.
„Everyone, especially the media, should do better,” the statement said.
Buckingham Palace had no comment.
The couple, who live in California with their two young children, were staying at a private home but decided against returning because they didn’t want to compromise their host’s safety, their spokesman said.
Harry never hid his distaste for the press, fueled by his mother’s treatment and especially his own experiences when he was younger.
In his memoir „Spare,” the couple’s Netflix docu-series and television interviews, he has condemned British tabloid newspapers’ invasion of his and his family’s privacy — one of the main reasons he and Meghan cited for stepping down from their royal roles in 2020. to America.
The prince is currently involved in several court cases in London, where he accuses newspapers of using illegal methods to target him and his family. A publisher apologized last week for illegally seeking information about him in 2004, even though the papers denied all of his allegations.
He is trying to overturn the British government’s decision to strip him of special police protection while in Britain.
Reporting by Mike Holden, Writing by William James
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