Harry and Meghan in ‘near catastrophic’ two-hour car chase involving paparazzi
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle claim they were involved in a “near catastrophic car chase” involving “highly aggressive” paparazzi photographers that lasted over two hours.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they were followed after attending a charity awards ceremony for the Ms. Foundation for Women with her mother Doria Ragland on Tuesday evening, where Meghan was honoured for her work.
It is understood the couple believed the pursuit could have been fatal, as it involved six blacked-out vehicles being driven recklessly, which they said endangered their convoy and everyone around them.
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“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,” a spokesperson for the couple said in a statement released on Wednesday.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD [New York Police Department] officers.”
A New York Police Department spokesperson said they could not comment when asked about the incident by The Independent.
Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a high-speed chase in 1997 after trying to flee the paparazzi who had been following her while she was driven through Paris.
The duke and duchess said they accept a heightened level of attention when they are at public events, and in this case they exited and entered the venue publicly, allowing photographers to get pictures.
The family was staying at a private residence and did not want to compromise the security of their friend’s home, they said.
A statement from the couple said that traffic violations during the chase included vehicles being driven on the pavement and through red lights, reversing down a one-way street, illegally blocking a moving vehicle and driving while photographing and while on the phone. They said those involved were confronted by uniformed police multiple times, but they continued the pursuit, and there was footage taken from security, along with other evidence, to support their allegations.
Pictures that have appeared on social media show Harry, Meghan and her mother sitting in the back of a New York taxi.
The spokesperson said these showed "a small glimpse at the defense and decoys required to end the harassment".
"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," the spokesperson said. "Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all involved.”
The Duke of Sussex wrote extensively about his mother’s death in his bestselling memoir Spare and about his anger at the press intrusion into the lives of the royal family.
He detailed how prior to attending the 2007 Rugby World Cup semi-final in Paris when he was 23 years old, he asked the driver of his car to go through the tunnel where his mother was tragically killed.
“The World Cup provided me with a driver, and on my first night in the City of Light I asked him if he knew the tunnel where my mother …” he wrote. “I watched his eyes in the rearview, growing large. The tunnel is called Pont de l’Alma, I told him. Yes, yes. He knew it.”
Harry and Meghan stepped down from their royal roles in 2020 and moved to the United States partly because of what they described as intense media harassment.
The prince is currently involved in numerous High Court cases in London where he has accused papers of using unlawful methods to target him and his family.
He is also seeking to overturn a decision by the British government to take away his specialist police protection when he is in Britain.
The couple has clarified that they now fund their own security after former president Donald Trump said the US government would not pay to protect them.
Meghan had been in New York to accept the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Award with Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown.
The gala kicked off the foundation's largest fundraising campaign ever – $100 million over the next 12 months – that will be used to further the organization's equity-centered initiatives and its mission of advancing women's collective power.
With her mother in the audience, Meghan recounted how Ms. Magazine was always in their house and how it affected her worldview.
"I am a woman who remains inspired and driven by this organization," she said, looking over at Ms. Foundation co-founder Gloria Steinem. "It allowed me to recognize that part of my greater value and purpose in life was to advocate for those who felt unheard, to stand up to injustice, and to not be afraid of saying what is true and what is just and what is right."
The event was her first public appearance since she skipped the coronation of her father-in-law King Charles III earlier this month in order to stay at home in California for her son Prince Archie's fourth birthday. Harry attended the coronation in London and then rushed back to California.