'It could have been fatal’: Prince Harry and Meghan's paparazzi chase draws parallels to Princess Diana's death

Prince Harry and Meghan, along with her mother are shaken after a nearly 2-hour paparazzi chase around New York City

Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and her mother Doria Ragland were involved in what a spokesperson for the couple is calling a "near catastrophic car chase" in New York City on Tuesday night.

The incident occurred after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex departed the Ms. Foundation for Women’s 50th-anniversary gala event, where the Duchess was recognized as one of this year's Woman of Vision Award honorees.

The trio left the gala in a black car, but soon after departure, were swarmed by paparazzi on motorbikes, cars and electric scooters near Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The vehicle occupants reportedly swapped vehicles several times in an effort to shake the photographers, and eventually ended up in a yellow cab SUV, flanked by a police escort.

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

Uniformed officers urged the paparazzi not to continue, however four photographers did not heed their warnings.

"What we were dealing with was very chaotic. The public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal," said Chris Sanchez, a member of Harry and Meghan's security detail in a statement to media.

Though the couple are reportedly "extremely upset and shaken," no injuries were reported or arrests made in regard to the incident, according to a statement made by NYPD.

Incident draws comparisons to the death of Princess Diana

Images and video released in the wake of the incident show the Duke and Duchess, along with the Duchess's mother seated in the back of the cab, and at times, shadows of fright and concern appear to cross their faces.

Many were quick to draw comparisons to the death of Harry's mother, Princess Diana, in which a high-speed chase by photographers resulted in a horrific car wreck in a Paris motorist tunnel during 1997, ultimately leading to the deaths of all vehicle occupants.

"I don't think there's many of us who don't recall how [Prince Harry's] mom died and it would be horrific to lose innocent bystanders during a chase like this, and something to have happened to them as well, so I think we have to be extremely responsible," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams while addressing the incident.

"It's clear that the press, paparazzi, they want to get the right shot, they want to get the right story, but public safety must always be at the forefront," Adams added.

One bystander told media that her heart goes out to Prince Harry because of the parallels drawn to the death of his mother, Princess Diana.

The evolution of anti-paparazzi laws

"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 for the royals said in their statement.

The death of Princess Diana served as a ruthless reminder that some paparazzi will do anything to get “the shot,” and served as a catalyst for laws being implemented that serve to protect high-profile individuals.

“The incident also inspired Dianne Feinstein and Orrin Hatch, two U.S. senators in federal government, to propose legislation that would make it a crime for photographers to use reckless or dangerous tactics that result in injury to their subjects while they were in pursuit of a photograph,” Jill Stanley, who is an attorney and founder of the celebrity legal news site Proof With Jill Stanley in a 2017 interview with Yahoo.

In 1998, California passed California Civil Code 1708.8.

** FILE ** Photographers try to photograph through the back window of a Los Angeles City Fire Department ambulance carrying entertainer Britney Spears, as it leaves her residence,in this Jan. 3, 2008, file photo in Los Angeles. Los Angeles city councilman Dennis Zine introduced a motion Friday, Feb. 1, 2008, to create a buffer zone between celebrities and the paparazzi who often swarm around them. The councilman said the measure would require several feet of space between photographers and celebrities to ensure a

“They were the first ones to really act legally in response to the Diana situation,” says Stanley. “And it makes sense because of the fact that they have so many celebrities in Hollywood.” The law established that a person is civilly liable for invasion of privacy when he or she is trying to capture a physical impression of another person.

California then passed California Vehicle Code Section 40008 in 2011. “That is a criminal code that says if you interfered with a driver and you follow too closely, you make it difficult for them to drive, you act recklessly because you are trying to capture an image or a recording for a commercial purpose, you have committed a misdemeanor,” Stanley explains.

Punishment for any violation results in up to six months jail time or a $2,500 fine.

Social media has also changed the face of the paparazzi industry, and has resulted in a massive decrease in the value photos of celebrities hold due to the widespread availability of images captured on smartphones by the public.

Social reaction to Prince Harry and Meghan incident

Social media users appeared divided as some questioned how given the shear amount of traffic found in New York City, a chase of such magnitude could have occurred, while others shared support for the duo following the incident.

Some users called for more public empathy, given the trauma Prince Harry endured at the time of his mother's death.