LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and her mother were involved in a “near-disastrous” car chase with paparazzi after attending an award ceremony in New York, a spokeswoman for Harry said on Wednesday.
The spokesman said the incident involved a “highly aggressive gang of paparazzi” in six 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, resulted in multiple near misses involving other road drivers, pedestrians and two NYPD (NYPD) officers,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The couple – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – were shaken by the accident but unharmed.
The New York Police Department, who said it assisted a special security team to protect them, made the incident seem less serious.
“There were several paparazzi who made their transportation difficult,” Julian Phillips, the NYPD’s principal spokesperson, said in a statement. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have arrived at their destination and there have been no reports of collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests.”
The Washington Post quoted taxi driver Suchcharn Singh, who said he drove the group and a security guard for about 10 minutes before returning to the police station from which he had picked them up at the security guard’s request.
“I don’t think I would call it a chase,” Singh was quoted as saying, adding that two vehicles followed and went by, taking photos 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 seemed scared but it’s New York – it’s safe.”
Pictures on social media show Harry, Meghan and her mother sitting in the back of a New York taxi that their spokesperson said showed “a small glimpse of the advocacy and decoys required to end the harassment”.
Media reported that the couple had turned to the taxi to try to get rid of the paparazzi, after the car they left the Ziegfeld Ballroom in midtown Manhattan was chased into.
The prince has long spoken of his anger at the intrusive press that blamed him for the death of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed when her limousine crashed as she was driving away from a paparazzi pursuit in Paris in 1997.
The couple’s spokesperson said Tuesday’s chase could be fatal and includes paparazzi driving on the sidewalk, running red lights and driving while taking pictures.
According to the spokesperson, those involved were confronted several times by police officers.
Chris Sanchez, a member of the couple’s security team, told CNN he was concerned members of the public could be infected.
“I’ve never seen, experienced anything like this,” he said. “What we were dealing with was very chaotic. There were about a dozen: cars, motorbikes and bicycles.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he received word that two NYPD officers were injured in the crash.
“I don’t think there are many of us who don’t remember how his mother died,” Adams told reporters. “And it would be horrible to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like that and something could have happened to them, too.”
He said he would get an in-depth briefing later, but found it hard to believe there could have been a two-hour high-speed chase.
“If it’s 10 minutes, a 10-minute chase would be very dangerous in New York City,” Adams said.
The Ms. for Women Foundation, the organizer of the award ceremony where Meghan was honored for her work, said she was horrified by the episode.
“Everyone, especially the media, must do better,” the statement said.
There was no comment from Buckingham Palace.
The couple, who live in California with their two young children, were staying at a private residence but decided not to move back there because they didn’t want to compromise their host’s safety, according to their spokesperson.
Harry has never hidden his dislike of the press, fueled by the treatment his mother received and his own experiences, especially when he was young.
In his memoir Spear, the couple’s Netflix documentary series and TV interviews, he slammed British tabloids invading his and his family’s privacy — one of the main reasons he and Meghan gave for stepping down from their royal roles in 2020 and moving on. to the United States.
The prince is currently involved in several court cases in London where he has accused newspapers of using illegal methods to target him and his family. While newspapers have rejected nearly all of his claims, last week one publisher apologized for illegally seeking information about him in 2004.
He is also seeking to overturn a decision by the British government to withdraw his specialized police protection while in Britain.
(Reporting by Mike Holden, written by William James
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