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Prince Harry and Meghan Involved in ‘Near Catastrophic Car Chase’ With Paparazzi. Here’s What We Know

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were involved in a car chase that their spokesperson has described as “near catastrophic,” according to BBC News.

The couple was joined by Markle’s mother Doria Ragland, when they were reportedly followed by paparazzi on Tuesday evening.

Prince Harry and Meghan’s 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,” the spokesperson said.

“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 added. “Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all in involved.”

The couple were reportedly shaken by the incident but unharmed.

The incident took place in New York hours after Markle accepted the 2023 Women of Vision award from Gloria Steinem at the Ms. Foundation for Women’s annual gala. The event marked the couple’s first public appearance together since King Charles coronation, which Markle did not attend.

“It’s never too late to start,” she said at the event in New York. “You can be the visionary of your own life… There is still so much work to be done,” she told gala attendees.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry leave the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards at Ziegfeld Ballroom on May 16 in New York City.Selcuk Acar—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

What we know about the car chase

The couple reportedly hid in multiple police stations to evade the six blacked-out paparazzi vehicles pursuing them, according to the Telegraph. The publication added that the family were staying at a private residence with friends but felt unsafe immediately returning to the residence while being pursued. It is understood that the couple reached the house at 12:30 a.m. after multiple stops and changes in vehicle.

Royal biographer Omid Scobie tweeted Wednesday that the photographers were confronted by uniformed officers “multiple times” and still carried out a number of traffic violations such as driving on the sidewalk, running red lights, and reversing down a one-way street. He also noted that images obtained during the chase briefly appeared on the Daily Mail website Wednesday morning but have since been taken down.

The Ms. Foundation for Women and Buckingham Palace had no immediate comment, according to Reuters.

Cab driver calls Prince Harry and Meghan’s claims ‘exaggerated’

The taxi driver who drove Prince Harry and Meghan told NBC they were followed by paparazzi but the claim it was “near catastrophic” was “exaggerated,” and that he never felt in danger.

“I think that’s all you know, exaggerated and stuff like that. So don’t read too much into that, you know. New York City is the safest place to be,” said Sukhcharn Singh.

Singh had picked up Prince Harry and Meghan from the NYPD’s 19th Precinct at around 11 p.m. on Tuesday evening, after the couple had gone there in a bid to lose paparazzi, and they were in his cab for around 10 minutes, the Telegraph reported.

“I don’t think I would call it a chase,” Singh told the Washington Post. “I never felt like I was in danger. It wasn’t like a car chase in a movie.”

However, one paparazzi reportedly involved in the high speed chase said it was “very tense” trying to keep up with their vehicle. Speaking anonymously to ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Thursday, he said, “They did a lot of blocking and there was a lot of different type of manoeuvres to stop what was happening.”

The paparazzi drive also claimed that Harry and Meghan’s driver had made the chase “a catastrophic experience.” “Their driver was making it a catastrophic experience… if they were going 80mph, I would probably have been going 20mph behind them and hoping to keep sight of them,” he said.

New York Mayor Eric Adams calls chase ‘reckless and irresponsible’

New York City mayor Eric Adams told reporters that the chase sounded “a bit reckless and irresponsible” and noted that it could have injured two police officers on the scene. He added he was yet to receive a full briefing, which will take place on Wednesday.

But Adams said he found it hard to believe there would have been a two-hour high speed chase. “If it’s 10 minutes, a 10-minute chase is extremely dangerous in New York City.”

An NYPD spokesperson said he could not confirm any information about the incident, according to Reuters.

Two NYPD officers played down the car chase and said they did not believe it was “near catastrophic” but described it as a “bit of a chaotic scene,” Sky News reported on Thursday.

The shocking echoes to Princess Diana’s fatal car crash

While few other details about the incident have been confirmed, the car chase is reminiscent of the fatal accident that claimed the life of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. After being pursued by paparazzi in Paris with her partner Dodi Fayed, Diana was involved in a traffic collision and died aged 36 as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.

Harry has previously been vocal about the role paparazzi played in his mother’s death and he also shared fears that Meghan would meet a similar fate to Diana in his 2021 mental health docuseries with Apple TV+, titled The Me You Can’t See. “History was repeating itself,” Harry said in the docuseries. “My mother was chased to her death while she was in a relationship with someone who wasn’t white, and now look what’s happened. You want to talk about history repeating itself? They’re not gonna stop until she dies.”

“I don’t think there’s many of us who don’t recall how, how his mom died,” New York Mayor Adams also told reporters. “And it would be horrific to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this and something to have happened to them as well.”

The royal family has not reached out to Harry and Meghan since car chase, royal biographer claims

Scobie said in an interview with BBC Newsnight said that he heard from sources that nobody from the royal family reached out following news of the car chase. “Sadly that kind of shows the state of disrepair that that relationship is. It’s hard not to forget that Harry was here just a couple of weeks ago for King Charle’s coronation,” he said.

“You would have thought that that may go towards building some kind of path towards reconciliation in some way, but it seems like that’s not felt on the other side,” Scobie added.

The chase comes amid Harry’s lawsuits against British tabloids

Prince Harry is currently pursuing multiple civil lawsuits against U.K. newspapers for alleged phone hacking and the unlawful gathering of information. He is bringing a contested claim against Mirror Group Newspaper, and awaiting rulings on the continuation of cases brought against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) and News Group Newspapers (NGN).

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

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Write to Armani Syed at armani.syed@time.com