Prinz Harryand his wife Meghan were involved in a chaotic paparazzi chase in New York on Tuesday night that could have led to a "disastrous" outcome, his rep claimed.
The Sussexes were followed by photographers after leaving the Women of Vision Awards at the city's Ziegfeld Ballroom in a convoy that included Doria Ragland, Meghan's mother. The couple were devastated by the incident, although no one was hurt, their security team told CNN.
Police said "several" photographers made transporting the Sussexes "a challenge" but no clashes, injuries or arrests were reported.
According to the couple's account, the battle with the photographers was time-consuming and risky. "Last night the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Mrs Ragland were involved in a near catastrophic chase by a very aggressive paparazzi gang," the couple's rep said.
"This relentless chase, which lasted over two hours, resulted in multiple near misses with other motorists on the street, pedestrians and two NYPD officers."
Two people in charge of the couple's safety also described the incident as chaotic, with the paparazzi in various vehicles including cars, scooters, mopeds and electric bicycles. The Sussexes were said to have had to change cars during the chase.
Thomas Buda, who runs a private security firm hired to help the couple, said the manhunt began the moment Harry and Meghan left the Ziegfeld ballroom and lasted 90 minutes.
Paparazzi wanted to know where the couple were in New York City, he said, and their vehicles ran red lights while pedestrians stood at crosswalks and cut through traffic on Manhattan's 34th Street, heading in the opposite direction. - Cross roads, Buddha said.
Chris Sanchez, a member of the couple's security team, who spokeexclusively on CNNHe said the incident was alarming. "I've never seen or experienced anything like this," he said. "What we had to do was very chaotic."
The Sussexes were scared but relieved when they returned to the flat they were staying in, he said. “The population was in danger in several places. It could have been fatal," Sánchez said.
After what Buda called an increasingly dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, security forces moved the Duke and Duchess to the 19th Precinct police station on East 67th Street.
From there, a yellow cab just drove around the block back to the train station.
Buda said the couple finally managed to escape when midnight shift officers pulled out in their squad cars, causing a bottleneck on the block that allowed security teams to pull Harry and Meghan into traffic and pull them away.
Taxi driver Sukhcharn Singh spoke to CNN on Wednesday night about the surreal experience he had.
“I've been driving since 2018, it was the first time I've seen this. Other celebrities have never received so much attention from the paparazzi," he said.
Singh recalled that after the Duke and Duchess got into the taxi and before they could tell him where to go, "suddenly the paparazzi flooded the taxi." Lightning came from all directions. They are against the car and taking pictures.”
At one point, Singh said, a security guard got out of the taxi to tell the paparazzi to move away.
Singh said he didn't feel personally threatened, but the Duke and Duchess appeared "very nervous".
"You could tell from their facial expressions that they were nervous and scared," Singh recalls.
Prince Harry and Meghan say they were followed by photographers for two hours after leaving an event in New York.
After a 10-minute drive, Singh dropped Harry and Meghan off in Manhattan's 19th arrondissement. He told CNN he was paid $50.00 for the ride, even though the fare was only $17.50.
In a statement, the New York Police Department (NYPD) more or less confirmed the story of the two Sussexes in less colorful language. The NYPD "assisted the private security team in protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex" Tuesday night and "numerous photographers made their transportation difficult," said Julian Phillips, New York City Assistant Police Commissioner for Public Information.
"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have arrived at their destination and there have been no reports of clashes, summonses, injuries or arrests related to this," it said.
The couple's spokesman said that while they have some public interest in being public figures, it must never be at the expense of anyone's safety and urged the media not to release photos of the incident. "The disclosure of these images, given the manner in which they were taken, encourages an extremely intrusive and dangerous practice for all involved."
According to the couple's team report, the incident involved about half a dozen blacked-out vehicles with unidentified individuals driving recklessly, endangering the convoy and everyone around them.
Doria Ragland, Duchess of Sussex and Duchess of Sussex at the Women of Vision Awards in New York.
A local police source confirmed part of the couple's allegations, telling CNN that the couple were followed by a "swarm" of paparazzi in cars, motorcycles and scooters after they left Tuesday's event. A New York Police Department (NYPD) security team followed Harry and Meghan in another car and had to perform some maneuvers to avoid the paparazzi, the source said.
Paparazzi glided down the sidewalk on scooters and bicycles to keep up with him, the source said. There have been many accidents, including short stops between front and rear cars, but none have resulted in an accident, the source added.
The couple's caravan was escorted to a police station where they regrouped, the source added.
Both King Charles' Buckingham Palace and Prince William's Kensington Palace told CNN they would not comment on the incident.
Mayor condemns 'reckless' paparazzi
New York City Mayor Eric Adams called the incident "reckless" and "irresponsible."
"You shouldn't be speeding anywhere, but this is a densely populated city, and I think all of us, I don't think there's a lot of us that don't remember how our mother died," Adams said Asked reporters about the incident at an independent briefing.
"Of course the paparazzi want the right shot, they want the right story, but public safety always has to come first," Adams said.
The Duke of Sussex has been open about his family's safety, often highlighting the parallels between his wife's treatment and that of his mother Diana. The late Princess of Wales died of internal injuries sustained in a high-speed car crash in Paris in 1997.
In the six-part Netflix docuseries about the couple, Harry hit back at critics who said the couple had a paparazzi problem.
"In my mother's day, it was physical harassment: cameras in the face, chasing, chasing," she said.
"The paparazzi are still chasing people," he added. “But bullying is really happening online now. Once the photos are posted and the stories placed alongside them, that's when the social media bullying comes. It's hard to see another woman in my life that I love going through this binge eating. It's basically hunter versus prey.”
The Sussexes were pursued by photographers after leaving the Women of Vision Awards at the city's Ziegfeld Ballroom in a convoy that also included Doria Ragland, Meghan's mother. The couple were left shaken by the incident, although ultimately no-one was hurt, their security detail told CNN.Were Meghan and Harry chased by paparazzi? ›
In a statement to USA TODAY Wednesday, the couple's office said that the paparazzi's chase to capture photos of Harry and Meghan "resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers." The statement called the incident "near catastrophic."Were Harry and Meghan really in a car chase? ›
More than 25 years on, her son and his wife were pursued through the streets of New York City this week in what their team called a “near catastrophic” car chase.Was Prince Harry and Meghan in a car accident? ›
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Grand Jeep Cherokee
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Prince Edward: Fan of the Ferrari
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