Harry and Meghan car chase: Royal Family 'has not contacted' couple

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - MAY 16: Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and Duke of Sussex Prince Harry attend the ceremony, which benefits the Ms. Foundation for Women and feminist movements, in New York, United States on May 16, 2023. Meghan Markle who wears a gold dress for Women of Vision Gala receives 2023 Women of Vision award from Gloria Steinem at Ziegfeld Ballroom on Tuesday night in New York City. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry pictured on Tuesday night. (Getty Images)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had not been contacted by any senior members of the Royal Family nearly 24 hours after what they have described as a “near-catastrophic car chase", Yahoo News understands.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were said to have been subjected to a “relentless pursuit” lasting two hours involving half a dozen blacked-out vehicles in New York on Tuesday night, according to the couple’s spokesperson.

However, police sources told US media outlet ABC News the incident lasted no more than 20 minutes.

The couple were in the city on Tuesday with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, for an event at which the duchess received an award.

Yahoo News understands that, as of 8pm on Wednesday, no member of the Royal Family had been in contact with Harry.

The couple said in a statement: "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. This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers."

Following the incident, New York City officials branded photographers "reckless and irresponsible" with the New York mayor, Eric Adams, saying: “I don’t think there are many of us who don’t recall how his mom died. I thought that was a bit reckless and irresponsible.”

However, he added: “I would find it hard to believe there was a two-hour. high-speed chase. But if it’s 10 minutes, a 10-minute chase is extremely dangerous.”

The couple has not described the incident as a high-speed chase.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 24: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies at Crypto.com Arena on April 24, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan at a basketball game in California last month. (Getty Images)

Sukhcharn Singh, the couple's taxi driver, told the Washington Post he wouldn't "call it a chase", but that his passengers "were quiet and seemed scared, but it's New York - it's safe".

A member of the Sussexes' security team, who was there for the incident, told CNN that he had "never seen, experienced anything like this. What we were dealing with was very chaotic".

He also noted that "the public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal."

The New York Police Department released a statement saying 'numerous photographers... made their transport challenging", adding there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests.

Police sources told ABC News that their engagement with Harry and Megan lasted no more than 20 minutes and that, if the incident did last two hours, it was because Harry and Meghan's security wanted to keep their location safe having avoided the paparazzi. They also said the number of photographers pursuing the couple was not as many as initially claimed.

Paparazzi agency Backgrid USA said it did not condone harassment and would be "conducting a thorough investigation into the matter".

It added: "The photographers report that one of the four SUVs from Prince Harry's security escort was driving in a manner that could be perceived as reckless. The vehicle was seen blocking off streets, and in one video, it is shown being pulled over by the police."

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment to Yahoo News.

What happened to Harry and Meghan?

DUBBO, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17:  Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit a local farming family, the Woodleys, on October 17, 2018 in Dubbo, Australia. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on their official 16-day Autumn tour visiting cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.  (Photo by Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan pictured in 2018, before they quit as working royals. (Getty)

The couple, who were staying at a private residence, left the Ziegfeld Ballroom after 8:30pm following their appearance at a Ms. Foundation event - their first public appearance together since the duchess’s absence at the King’s coronation earlier this month.

After they left, it is believed they were pursued by six blacked-out vehicles with unidentified people driving recklessly and endangering those around them.

It is thought the cars ran red lights, drove on the pavement and reversed down a one-way street while in pursuit - and that while those involved were confronted by uniformed police multiple times, they continued the pursuit, and that there is footage taken from security along with other evidence to support these allegations.

Echoes of Diana

File photo dated 31 August 1997 shows wreckage of Princess Diana's car in the Alma Tunnel of Paris. Britain's Princess Diana, her friend Dodi Fayez and the driver Henri Paul were all killed in the crash. / AFP PHOTO / PIERRE BOUSSEL        (Photo credit should read PIERRE BOUSSEL/AFP via Getty Images)
The wreckage of Princess Diana's car in the Alma Tunnel of Paris in 1997. (Getty)

The near-crash has prompted comparisons with the fatal Paris car crash that claimed his mother Princess Diana's life in 1997.

The princess had been at the Ritz hotel with her partner Dodi Fayed when the car they were in crashed in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris, killing both Diana and Dodi.

The vehicle had been pursued by a group of paparazzi on motorcycles ahead of the crash.

Prince Harry wrote about how photographers continued to take pictures of the princess as she lay dying. In his memoir, Spare, he said: "The last thing mummy ever saw on this Earth was a flashbulb."

He also wrote: "I’d been told that paps chased Mummy, that they’d hunted her like a pack of wild dogs, but I’d never dared to imagine that, like wild dogs, they’d also feasted on her defenceless body."

Warnings in Netflix documentary

The Netflix documentary trailer shows Harry and Meghan appear to be chased by paparazzi in a car. (Getty Images)
The Netflix documentary trailer shows Harry and Meghan appear to be chased by paparazzi in a car. (Getty Images)

In Harry & Meghan – the six-part documentary series released last year on Netflix – the couple discussed the difficulties of life in the public eye.

It was divulged NBC had to hire a driver who specialised in “evasive driving” when Meghan’s relationship with Harry first went public and she was still starring in Suits.

Her personal security guard said in the documentary: “This has been the most intense situation with the media. I mean, I've worked with A-list celebrities before, high net worth families before this blew the meta right out the water, the paparazzi, they'll do what they have to do to get a picture.

“My job was to make sure that they didn't really know where we were going and when we would go in there. We had a special driver taking myself and Megan to the studio all the time. He was trained in evasive driving, and we used to have to take different routes to the studio to get away from the paparazzi that were chasing us."

Harry's history with the Paparazzi

EGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 30: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy sit in the Royal Box as they attend the Cartier International Polo Match at Guards Polo Club, Smith's Lawn on July 30, 2006 in Egham, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Harry and Chelsy Davy pictured in 2006. (Getty Images)

Harry has spent a lifetime enduring the invasive techniques of the paparazzi. In his memoir Spare, he discusses in detail what it was like to be chased by photographers as a child and to see the same happen to girlfriends such as Chelsy Davy.

He says this intrusion was a key factor in wanting to keep police security after deciding to step back from life as a working royal. In the book, he outlined details from the now-infamous ‘Sandringham Summit’, where the Sussexes' future was discussed with other senior royals, writing: “I told everyone assembled that, above all, I was desperate to keep security. That was what worried me most, my family’s physical safety.

“I wanted to prevent a repeat of history, another untimely death like the one that had rocked this family to its core 23 years earlier."

In July 2021, a legal representative of the couple said Harry’s “security was compromised due to the absence of police protection, whilst leaving a charity event”.

The Duke was briefly visiting the UK for the unveiling of a statue in memory of his late mother, Diana, when the incident occurred.

Harry vs the Home Office

Harry’s security concerns are at the heart of an ongoing legal action he is bringing against the Home Office.

His personal protection officers were removed in February 2020 when he stepped back as a working royal.

He has since appealed to the executive committee for the protection of royalty and public figures (Ravec) to finance the armed police protection himself.

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