prins harryHe and his wife Meghan were involved in a chaotic chase with paparazzi in New York on Tuesday evening that their spokesman said could have ended in "disastrous" results.
The Sussexes were chased by photographers after they left the Women's Vision Awards at the Ziegfeld City Ballroom, which was also attended by Meghan's mother Doria Ragland. Their security guard told CNN that the couple was shaken by the incident, though ultimately no one was hurt.
Police said "many" photographers made transporting the Sussexes "difficult", but there were no reports of any collisions, injuries or arrests.
As in the couple's relationship, a quarrel with the photographer was long and risky. "Last night the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Lady Ragland were involved in a near-disastrous car chase led by a very aggressive group of paparazzi," a spokesman for the couple said.
"This relentless pursuit, which lasted more than two hours, resulted in multiple dangerous collisions with other drivers, pedestrians and two NYPD officers on the road."
Two people involved in protecting the couple also described the incident as chaotic, with paparazzi driving multiple vehicles, including cars, scooters, mopeds and electric bicycles. They said the Sussexes must have switched cars during the chase.
Thomas Buda, who runs a private security company contracted to help the couple, said the chase started the moment Harry and Meghan left Ziegfeld's ballroom and lasted 90 minutes.
He said paparazzi wanted to know where the couple lived when they were in New York City when their vehicle ran a red light while pedestrians were in a crosswalk and into oncoming traffic on 34th Street in Manhattan, with one of the cars going the wrong way. One way Do, Buda said.
Chris Sanchez, a member of the couple's security team, spokeonly for CNNHe said the incident was concerning. "I've never seen or experienced anything like it," he said. "It's very messy what we're dealing with."
He said the Sussexes were terrified but relieved to be back in the flat where they were staying. "The public was in danger in several places. It could have ended tragically," Sanchez said.
Security personnel transferred the Duke and Duchess to the 19th Police Station on East 67th Street after what Buda described as an increasingly dangerous game of cat and mouse.
From there, a yellow cab drove them around the block and back to the police station.
As the midnight patrol continued in their squad car, the pair eventually escaped and managed to create a tight spot on the block, allowing security teams to let Harry and Meghan in and out of traffic, Buda said.
The driver of that taxi, Sukhcharn Singh, spoke to CNN late Wednesday about the surreal experience he had.
"I've been riding since 2018 and this is the first time I've seen him. No other celebrity has ever attracted so much paparazzi attention.
After the Duke and Duchess got into the taxi - before he had even had time to tell him where to go - "Suddenly the paparazzi burst into the taxi. Flashes of light came from all directions. They stood by the car and took pictures .” recalls Singer.
At one point, a security guard got out of the taxi and told the paparazzi to get out, Singh said.
Singh said he did not feel personally threatened, but the Duke and Duchess seemed "very nervous".
"You could tell by the look on their faces that they were nervous and scared," Singer recalled.
Prince Harry and Meghan said they were chased by photographers for two hours after they left a party in New York.
After a ten-minute drive, Singer dropped Harry and Meghan off in Manhattan's 19th Ward. He told CNN they gave him $50.00 for the ride, even though the fare was only $17.50.
In a statement, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) acknowledged the outline of the relationship between the Sussexes, but described it in less graphic terms. NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Julian Phillips said Tuesday night that the NYPD was "assisting a private security team to protect the Duke and Duchess of Sussex" and that "there were a lot of photographers making it difficult for them to transport."
"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have reached their final destination and there have been no reports of any clashes, phone calls, injuries or arrests," he said.
A spokesman for the couple said that while "being a public figure comes with some publicity, it should never come at the expense of anyone's safety," and urged the media not to publish any photos of the incident. "Given how these images were obtained, the dissemination of these images allows for a highly invasive practice that is dangerous for everyone involved."
According to a report from the couple's team, the incident involved about six disabled vehicles in which unidentified individuals drove recklessly, threatening the convoy and everything around them.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Doria Ragland at the Women's Vision Awards in New York.
A local law enforcement source confirmed some of the couple's claims, telling CNN that the pair were followed by a group of paparazzi in cars, motorcycles and scooters after they left the party on Tuesday. A New York Police Department (NYPD) security team followed Harry and Meghan in another vehicle and were forced to perform several evasive maneuvers to evade paparazzi, sources said.
Sources said paparazzi on scooters and bicycles scurried down the sidewalk to keep up. There were multiple near calls for help, including brief stops in front of and behind the car, but none resulted in an accident, the source added.
The couple's convoy was taken to a police station where they could regroup, the source said.
King Charles' Buckingham Palace and Prince William's Kensington Palace both told CNN they would not comment on the matter.
Mayor condemns 'reckless' paparazzi
New York City Mayor Eric Adams called the incident "reckless" and "irresponsible."
"You're not supposed to be going anywhere anytime soon, but it's a populous city and I think everyone, I don't think many of us don't remember how his mother died," Adams said when asked about the incident at an Unrelated briefing.
"Clearly the paparazzi want the footage right, they want the story right, but public safety should always come first," Adams said.
The Duke of Sussex has been outspoken about his family's safety, often comparing his wife's treatment to that of his mother, Diana. The Princess of Wales died of internal injuries in a car accident in Paris in 1997.
In the pair's six-part documentary series on Netflix, Harry fended off critics who claimed the pair had a paparazzi problem.
"In my mom's day, it was physical harassment — cameras pointed at your face, stalking you, stalking you," he said.
"The paparazzi are still harassing people," he added. "But there's definitely more harassment online now. After a photo is posted and a story is posted next to it, the harassment follows on social media. It's hard to see another woman in my life I like through this binge actually, it's a fight between hunter and prey."