Harry and Meghan paparazzi claim royals ‘not in danger’ during ‘chase’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were “not in immediate danger at any point” during an alleged two-hour paparazzi car chase that they believed could have been fatal, it has been claimed.
Harry claimed that he and Meghan were subjected to a “near catastrophic” pursuit by photographers after leaving the Ms. Foundation gala in New York with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, on Tuesday night.
But Backgrid USA Inc, the agency that hired four freelance photographers to cover the event, instead insisted that one of the four SUVs escorting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in New York was “driving in a manner that could be perceived as reckless”.
In a statement on Thursday, Backgrid disputed the couple’s claims but also said it was “taking Prince Harry’s allegations seriously”.
Addressing the alleged “reckless” driving by one of the prince’s cohort of SUVs, the agency said: “The vehicle was seen blocking off streets, and in one video, it is shown being pulled over by the police.”
It added that it does “not condone any form of harassment or illegal activity” and will conduct a “thorough investigation into the matter”.
A media storm was sparked after the royals’ claimed that they were subjected to a chase after leaving the Ms. Foundation gala at around 10pm on Tuesday night after Markle was honoured with a “Women of Vision” award.
Upon departing the venue, Ashley Hansen, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's press secretary, said they were immediately followed by photographers.
She told Sky News: "I have never experienced their vulnerability as much as I did last night. They were incredibly scared and shaken up.
"There were several times where the car stopped and security got out. There were instances where the police confronted the paparazzi and had asked them to stop or give them space, to do this safely.
"Unfortunately that wish was not respected."
However, their claims have been disputed by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and a taxi driver who picked up the group after they left a Manhattan police station where they were apparently seeking shelter from the photographers.
Julian Phillips, the deputy commissioner of the NYPD, said there was “a bit of a chaotic scene” but downplayed its severity.
He added: "There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging.
"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests."
And Sukhcharn Singh - the taxi driver who picked them up outside the 19th precinct around 15 minutes after the group arrived - told The Washington Post: "I don't think I would call it a chase. I never felt like I was in danger.
"It wasn't like a car chase in a movie. (Harry and Meghan) were quiet and seemed scared but it's New York – it's safe."
However, he did admit that he didn’t see the whole events of the evening.