Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s “near catastrophic” car chase with paparazzi Tuesday night may not be as dramatic as their spokesperson made it sound, several people say.
“On Tuesday evening, May 16, the NYPD assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” Julian Phillips, the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, tells Rolling Stone in a statement. “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 in regard.”
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At an unrelated press conference, New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams condemned the culture of paparazzi, calling the pursuit of unsolicited photographs “reckless and irresponsible.” While he insisted that “public safety must always be at the forefront,” the mayor also questioned the couple’s claims. “I would find it hard to believe that there was a two-hour high-speed chase,” he said.
The New York Times reported that the whole trip — from a venue where Markle received an award to a police department — was about an hour, conflicting with Prince Harry’s spokesperson’s claim that it took twice as long. After waiting a few minutes at the station, the Associated Press reported that Prince Harry, Markle, and her mother, Doria Ragland, left in a taxicab.
The cab driver, Sukhcharn Singh, told NBC’s local New York station that he’d driven the couple but also downplayed the drama. “I don’t think it was in my car, the high speed [chase],” he said. “I think that must have been before, because we were just making left turns and right turns, and that’s it. Because we also got stuck behind the garbage truck for a little bit. And then a cop came and started blasting their horn, and then the garbage truck moved, and that’s how we got out.” He brought them back to the precinct, according to The AP, and the couple gave him $50 for a $17 fare.
The Times reports that Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace (Prince William’s residence) had no comment on the report.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Prince Harry released a statement claiming “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 … lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians, and two NYPD (New York Police Department) officers.”
The family had been attending an event, the Ms. Foundation for Women, where Markle received an award at Manhattan’s Ziegfeld Ballroom. The Times reports they left in a private security vehicle with a police escort at around 9:50 p.m. to return to a residence on the Upper East Side. After about an hour, they felt they couldn’t separate themselves from paparazzi, so the police escorted them to the 19th precinct. The family then got in a taxi with two police escorts, finally shaking the paparazzi.
When Harry and Markle stepped down as working royals in 2020, Great Britain’s Home Office discontinued its police protection of the couple, leading them to hire private security. Then-President Donald Trump said that the government also would not protect them once they moved to the United States, according to The AP. In recent years, Harry has expressed mounting frustration with the media and its fascination with him and his wife.
Wednesday’s story of paparazzi chasing them recalled the events leading up to the death of Princess Diana, Prince Harry’s mother, who had been pursued by paparazzi leading to a fatal car crash in Paris in 1997.
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