Prince Harry Their spokesperson and wife Megan claimed they were involved in a chaotic car chase with paparazzi in New York on Tuesday night that could have led to a “catastrophic” outcome.
The Sussexes were stalked by paparazzi after they left the Women of Vision Awards gala at the city’s Ziegfeld Ballroom in a caravan that also included Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mother. The incident escalated the couple, though no one was hurt, security personnel told CNN.
Police said “many” paparazzi made moving the Sussexes a “challenge”, but there were no reports of collisions, injuries or arrests.
According to the couple’s account, the altercation with the paparazzi was drawn-out and fraught with danger. A spokesperson for the couple said: “Last night, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Lady Ragland were involved in a near-disastrous car chase by a highly aggressive gang of paparazzi.”
“This relentless chase, which lasted more than two hours, resulted in numerous near-misses involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers.”
Two people involved with the couple’s security also described the incident as chaotic, as paparazzi were in several vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, scooters and electric bicycles. They say the Sussexes had to switch cars during the chase.
Thomas Buda, who runs a private security firm hired to assist the couple, said the chase began the moment Harry and Meghan left the Ziegfeld Hall and lasted 90 minutes.
Paparazzi wanted to know where the couple were staying while they were in New York City, he said, and their cars were running red lights while pedestrians were in crosswalks and they were driving into oncoming traffic on 34th Street in Manhattan, and they were driving the wrong way in one direction. Buddha said.
Chris Sanchez, member of the couple’s security team who spoke Exclusively to CNNHe said the incident was disturbing. He said, “I have never seen, experienced anything like this.” “What we were dealing with was very messy.”
He said the Sussexes were scared – but were relieved when they returned to the flat they were staying in. The public was in danger at several points. “It could have been fatal,” Sanchez said.
After what Buda described as an increasingly dangerous game of cat and mouse, security transferred the duke and duchess to the 19th police station on East 67th Street.
From this location, a yellow taxi took them around the block, to the police station.
Buda said the couple finally made their escape when patrol officers’ shift in the middle of the night in their police cars turned out on patrol and effectively created a choke point in the block that allowed security teams to get Harry and Meghan into traffic and drive away.
The taxi driver, Suchcharn Singh, spoke to CNN late Wednesday about the surreal experience he faced.
“I’ve been driving now since 2018, it was the first time I saw this. No other celebrities have gotten this much attention from the paparazzi,” he said,
Singh stated that after the Duke and Duchess got into his car – and before they could even tell him where to go – “suddenly the taxi was barged by paparazzi. There are flashes coming from every direction. They are facing the car and taking pictures.”
At one point, Singh said, one of the security guards in the booth came down to tell the photographers to move.
Singh said he did not personally feel the danger but that the duke and duchess appeared “very nervous”.
“Looking at their faces, you could tell they were nervous and scared,” Singh recalls.
Selcuk Akar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Prince Harry and Meghan said they were hounded by paparazzi for two hours after they left an event in New York.
After a ten-minute flight, Singh dropped Harry and Meghan off at Manhattan’s 19th Precinct. He told CNN they gave him $50 to ride, even though the fare was only $17.50.
In a statement, the New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed the outline of the Sussexes’ account but described it in less colorful language. NYPD “assisted a special security team to protect the Duke and Duchess of Sussex” on Tuesday night, Julian Phillips, deputy commissioner of public information for the NYPD, said, and “there were several paparazzi who made their removal difficult.”
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have arrived at their destination and there have been no reports of collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests,” he said.
The couple’s spokesperson said that while “being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never be at the expense of anyone’s safety” and urged the media not to release photographs of the incident. “The publication of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a very intrusive practice that is dangerous for all involved.”
According to the account presented by the couple’s team, the accident involved about half a dozen damaged cars with unknown persons driving recklessly and 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.
Some of the couple’s account was corroborated by a local law enforcement source, who told CNN the couple were followed by a “swarm” of paparazzi in cars, motorcycles and scooters after they left the event on Tuesday. The source said a New York Police Department (NYPD) protection team followed Harry and Meghan in another car, and had to do some sidestepping maneuvers to get away from the paparazzi.
The source said the Paparazzi on scooters and bicycles took to the sidewalk to keep up. The source added that there were several close calls, including a short stop between front and rear cars, but none of them resulted in an accident.
The source added that the couple’s convoy was escorted to a police station where they were able to regroup.
Both King Charles’s Buckingham Palace and Prince William’s Kensington Palace told CNN they would not comment on the incident.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the incident was “reckless” and “irresponsible”.
Adams told reporters when asked about the incident in an unrelated briefing.
“Obviously, the paparazzi want to get the right picture, they want to get the right story, but public safety always has to be first,” said Adams.
The Duke of Sussex has been outspoken about his family’s security, often highlighting parallels between his wife’s treatment to that faced by his mother, Diana. The late Princess of Wales died in 1997 after suffering internal injuries resulting from a high-speed car accident in Paris.
In the couple’s six-part Netflix documentary series, Harry dismissed critics who said the couple had trouble with the paparazzi.
“In my mother’s day,” he said, “it was physical harassment — cameras in your face, following you, chasing you.”
“The paparazzi are still harassing people,” he added. “But the harassment is really more online now. Once you get the pictures out and put the stories next to it, then comes the harassment on social media. To see another woman in my life, who I love, go through this feeding frenzy — that’s hard. It’s basically hunter versus prey.”
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