Prince Harry and Meghan allege ‘near catastrophic’ paparazzi car chase in NY
According to their spokeswoman, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan engaged in a frenzied automobile chase with paparazzi in New York on Tuesday night that had things gone differently, it could have been “catastrophic.”
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Photographers followed the Sussexes as they left the Women of Vision Awards at the city’s Ziegfeld Ballroom in a convoy that also included Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland. Although nobody was wounded in the end, their security detail told CNN that the event left the couple rattled.
No collisions, injuries, or arrests were reported, but police said “many” photographers made the Sussexes’ transportation “difficult.”
According to couple’s account, the altercation with photographers was prolonged and risky. “Last night, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Ms. Ragland were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi,” the couple’s spokesperson said.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians, and two NYPD officers.”
The event, according to two people involved in the couple’s security, was chaotic and featured paparazzi in a wide variety of vehicles, including cars, scooters, mopeds, and electric cycles. The Sussexes allegedly had to exchange automobiles during the pursuit.
Thomas Buda, the owner of a private security firm hired to assist the pair, claimed that the pursuit started as soon as Harry and Meghan stepped outside the Ziegfeld Ballroom and lasted 90 minutes.
In order to find out where the couple was living when visiting New York City, the paparazzi, according to Buda, drove their cars through red lights while people were at the crosswalks, into oncoming traffic on Manhattan’s 34th Street, and the wrong way along one-way streets.
Chris Sanchez, a member of the couple’s security team who spoke exclusively to CNN, said the incident was alarming. “I have never seen, or experienced anything like this,” he said. “What we were dealing with was very chaotic.”
The Sussexes were scared – but were relieved when they returned to the apartment where they were staying, he said. “The public was in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal,” Sanchez said.
The Duke and Duchess were transferred by security to the 19th police precinct on East 67th Street after what Buda characterized as an increasingly dangerous game of cat and mouse.
A yellow taxi merely took them around the corner, back to the police station, from where they were.
According to Buda, the two were finally able to flee when the patrol policemen working the midnight shift showed up in their police cars to go on patrol. This effectively created a traffic jam on the street, which allowed security personnel to safely transport Harry and Meghan into oncoming traffic.
Sukhcharn Singh, the taxi’s driver, talked with CNN late on Wednesday to describe the bizarre situation he found himself in.
“I’ve been driving now since 2018, this was the first time I saw this. Other celebrities never got that much attention from the paparazzi,” he said,
Singh recalled that after the Duke and Duchess got in his cab – and before they could even tell him where to go – “all of a sudden the paparazzi just stormed the taxi. There are flashes coming from every direction. They’re up against the car, taking pictures.”
At one point, Singh said, a security guard in the cab with them got out to tell the paparazzi to move.
Singh said that he didn’t personally feel in danger but the Duke and the Duchess appeared “very nervous.”
“The look on their faces, you could tell that they were nervous and scared,” Singh recalled.
After a ten-minute ride, Singh dropped Harry and Meghan at the 19th precinct in Manhattan. He told CNN that they gave him $50.00 for the ride, though the fare was just $17.50.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) issued a statement in which it acknowledged the broad strokes of the Sussexes’ claim but used less flamboyant language to do so. According to Julian Phillips, the deputy commissioner for public communications for the NYPD, “there were numerous photographers that made their transport hard” on Tuesday evening as the NYPD “supported the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.”
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard,” 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 come at the cost of anyone’s safety” and urged the media not to publish photographs from the incident. “Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all in involved.”
According to the account provided by the couple’s team, the incident involved around half a dozen blacked-out vehicles with unidentified people driving recklessly and endangering the convoy and everyone around them.
After they departed the event on Tuesday, a “swarm” of paparazzi in vehicles, motorbikes, and scooters arrived. According to the insider, a protective crew from the New York Police Department (NYPD) was driving behind Harry and Meghan in another vehicle and had to make some evasive moves to evade the photographers.
According to the source, paparazzi on motorcycles and scooters raced down the sidewalk to keep up. The source claimed that there were numerous near-collisions, including brief halt between the front and rear of cars. However, none of them resulted in accidents.
The insider also said that the couple’s caravan was led to a police station where they were permitted to reassemble.
Both the Kensington Palace of Prince William and the Buckingham Palace of King Charles informed CNN that they would not be making any comments on the event.