A spokesperson for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said the couple was in a “near catastrophic car chase,” several media outlets are reporting.
Cab driver speaks; Buckingham Palace officials won’t comment
Update 7:49 a.m. EDT, May 18: More information is coming out surrounding the Tuesday night incident. The taxi driver who drove Harry, Meghan and her mother Doria Ragland for part of the night said he would not call what happened a chase and that he felt safe during the approximately 10 minutes that they were in his vehicle, The Washington Post reported.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex left an awards ceremony Tuesday night in an SUV but after being followed by photographers, police apparently intervened and helped the couple’s security team, escorting them to a police station about 18 blocks from the event, The Associated Press reported.
Harry, Meghan and Ragland went into the police station, waiting for the situation to calm down, and left in a taxi, the AP reported.
Sukhcharn Singh told the Post that he had picked up the couple and an older woman he did not recognize, along with a security guard at around 11 p.m. Tuesday at the New York Police Department’s 19th Precient. He was waved down by the security guard who asked, “Do you want a fare?”
They drove about a block and a half to Park Avenue then went south while being followed by two vehicles.
“They kept following us and were coming next to the car,” Singh told the newspaper. “They took pictures as we stopped and were filming us.”
Singh said he thinks they had been followed by photographers before they got into his cab.
The security guard then became concerned about the photographers and asked Singh to take them back to the station.
“I don’t think I would call it a chase,” Singh told the Post. “I never felt like I was in danger. It wasn’t like a car chase in a movie. They were quiet and seemed scared but it’s New York. It’s safe.”
But Singh told CNN that he had never seen something like this before.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Thomas Buda, a private security contractor who was hired to help Harry and Meghan, said that the chase started when they left the Ziegfeld Ballroom where Meghan was receiving an award, and lasted 90 minutes, CNN reported. Buda said the paparazzi wanted to find out where the couple was staying in the city and that vehicles ran red lights while pedestrians were in crosswalks, drove into oncoming traffic and drove the wrong way down one-way streets.
Another member of the couple’s security team, Chris Sanchez, told CNN, “I’ve never seen, experienced anything like this. What we were dealing with was very chaotic.”
Sanchez told CNN, “The public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal.”
Despite the media spotlight on what happened on Tuesday night, Buckingham Palace has remained mum. When asked by People magazine and other media outlets, the palace said it had no comment.
Palace officials told Insider, “This isn’t something we’re commenting on.”
Update 12:46 p.m. EDT, May 17: The NYPD has confirmed an incident happened, saying that several photographers “made their [Harry and Meghan’s] transport challenging, BBC News reported.
No one was hurt and no arrests have been made.
The BBC reported that Buckingham Palace has not commented.
TMZ releases images
Update 12:33 p.m. EDT, May 17: TMZ has published the video and images captured by the paparazzi during the incident. The Independent reported that the Daily Mail also had published photos online but then took them down.
Harry and Meghan were staying at a private residence in New York but did not return there after the incident, Reuters reported. They said they did not want to put the home’s owner in danger.
Update 12:05 p.m. EDT, May 17: New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he didn’t have a full briefing on the incident as of late Wednesday morning, but said that it was “reckless and irresponsible” for anyone to chase someone in the densely populated city, adding that “two of our officers could have been injured,” The Associated Press reported.
He said he “would find it hard to believe” that it was a two-hour high-speed chase, adding that a 10-minute chase in the city would be “extremely dangerous,” BBC News reported.
“It’s clear that the paparazzi want to get the right shot, they want to get the right story, but public safety must always be at the forefront,” Adams said, according to CNN.
The Associated Press reported that a half-dozen vehicles with blacked-out windows followed them.
The spokesperson said in a statement, “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,” Sky News reported.
Reuters reported that the paparazzi were driving on sidewalks, running red lights, and driving while taking pictures. No one was injured.
Law enforcement sources confirmed to CNN that paparazzi did follow the royal couple in cars and on motorcycles and scooters.
The scooters and motorcycles did drive on the sidewalk to keep up, the source said. And there were several close calls, including short stops between cars, but no accidents happened, CNN reported the source as saying.
A protective team from the NYPD was following Harry and Meghan in a separate car and had to make evasive maneuvers to get away from the paparazzi, the source told CNN.
The spokesperson said that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex understand that “being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety,” adding, “Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all in involved,” CNN reported.
Reuters reported that the Sussexes and Ragland were in a taxi.
Prince Harry and Meghan resigned from being working royals in 2020 and moved to the U.S. because of what they said was media harassment, Reuters reported.
Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a car crash after being chased by paparazzi in Paris in 1997. Harry has frequently spoken out about his anger, and has placed the blame on the media for the death of Diana, Reuters reported.
Prince Harry is involved in several court cases in the U.K. where he accused the media of using illegal methods to get information on him and his family, Reuters reported. He is also looking to overturn a decision made by the British government to remove his specialist police protection when he is in the country.
A lawyer made an argument in London court on Tuesday, hours before the chase, saying that he should be able to challenge the decision and pay for his own security, the AP reported.
They were in the city on Tuesday for an awards ceremony. Meghan received a Woman of Vision award at the Ms. Foundation for Women’s annual gala, Sky News reported. It was the couple’s first public appearance since the coronation of King Charles III.
News of the chase came hours after a man was arrested, suspected of stalking the couple. Kevin Garcia Valdovinos was seen outside Harry and Meghan’s mansion in Montecito around 2 a.m., TMZ reported. Valdovinos was first placed under citizen’s arrest by the couple’s security at the property’s entrance. Police arrived and took him into custody, charging him with misdemeanor stalking. Valdovinos was released on $2,500 bail.
Check back for more on this developing story.
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