Prince Harry and Meghan's 'paparazzi chase' wasn't 'nearly catastrophic,' says NYPD official (2023)

Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and her mother were involved in a "near disastrous" car chase after being chased by paparazzi for more than two hours, according to his spokesperson.

But two New York City police officers downplayed the incident, saying they didn't believe the chase was "almost catastrophic" and described the scene as "a little chaotic."

The Sussexes drove on 57th Street, Roosevelt Avenue and nearby roads for about an hour and 15 minutes before being followed by paparazzi before being taken to the NYPD's 19th Precinct, officials said.

Ashley Hansen, a spokeswoman for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, made clear the couple's concerns.

She told Sky News: "I've never felt so vulnerable as I did last night. They were very scared and shocked.

"There were several times when cars stopped and security came out. There have been instances where police confronted paparazzi and asked them to stop or give them a safe place.

"Unfortunately, this wish did not come true."

Prince Harry and Meghan's 'paparazzi chase' wasn't 'nearly catastrophic,' says NYPD official (1)

The taxi driver who took Harry, Meghan and her mother Doria Ragland outside the 19th arrondissement about 15 minutes after the group arrived said the photographer had tried to take photos and video.

says Suk Charn SinghWashington post"I wouldn't call it a chase. I never felt threatened.

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"It's not like a car chase in a movie. (Harry and Meghan) are quiet and look terrified, but this is New York - it's safe."

Mr Singh also said his car was being chased by two vehicles - a black Honda Accord and an older gray Honda CR-V.

He continued, "(The photographer) followed us closer to the car. When we stopped to film us, they took pictures."

Mr Singh also said he got the impression from the Sussexes that they were being chased by paparazzi before they even got into his car.

The journey only took about 10 minutes as Harry and Meghan's bodyguards became concerned about the photographer and asked Mr Singh to return to the station where he originally picked them up.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said two police officers may have been injured assisting Harry and Meghan's private security team when their car was tracked.

The chase came after the Sussexes attended the awards ceremony at New York's Ziegfeld Ballroom on Tuesday - their first public appearance sinceking coronation.

Prince Harry and Meghan's 'paparazzi chase' wasn't 'nearly catastrophic,' says NYPD official (3)

A spokesman for Harry said: "Last night the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Lady Ragland were involved in a near-disastrous chase at the hands of a very aggressive group of paparazzi.

The relentless pursuit, which lasted more than two hours, resulted in multiple dangerous collisions with other drivers, pedestrians and two NYPD officers on the road.

While being a public figure comes with some publicity, it should never come at the expense of one's safety.

"Given how these images were obtained, the dissemination of these images allows for a highly invasive practice that is dangerous for everyone involved."

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Julian Phillips said officers "assisted the private security team in protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex".

He continued: "There were many photographers making it difficult for them to transport. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have arrived at their destination and there have been no reports of any collisions, calls, injuries or arrests...

Read more:
Analysis: it is impossible not to remember Diana

What did Prince Harry just say to the paparazzi?

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Prince Harry and Meghan's 'paparazzi chase' wasn't 'nearly catastrophic,' says NYPD official (4) 1:22

The mayor of New York later said, "You know, the media or the paparazzi want the right images, they want the right story.

"But public safety should always come first. In the briefing I've had (heard), two of our officers may have been injured... I don't think there are many of us who don't remember how ( Harry's) mom dead.

"It would be terrible if we lost an innocent bystander in a car chase like this and something happened to them."

Mr Adams added that he believed the actions of those following the Sussexes were "reckless and irresponsible".

Neither Buckingham Palace nor Kensington Palace has commented on the matter.

car chase timeline

NYPD sources described what happened Tuesday night as follows.

:: Around 10 p.m. local time, Harry and Meghan left the Ziegfeld Ballroom, escorted by private security. The couple wanted to return to their Upper East Side home, police said.

:: Harry and Meghan didn't want the paparazzi to know where they were going, so they drove down 57th Street and other streets for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. An NYPD vehicle escorted their vehicle.

:: The Sussexes were taken to the 19th Precinct and remained there for about 15 minutes. Police helped the couple out of the block and they got into another vehicle. They arrived at their apartment untraceable. According to the police, there was some confusion at the scene.

Harry, Meghan and Ms. Ragland were reportedly followed by six black vehicles driven by unidentified individuals.

The vehicle allegedly hit the sidewalk, ran a red light and reversed into a one-way street.

It is also said that at least one driver used a phone while driving.

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Prince Harry and Meghan's 'paparazzi chase' wasn't 'nearly catastrophic,' says NYPD official (5) 1:02

It was also reported that at least one other person was taking pictures while driving.

One of the vehicles is said to have illegally blocked a moving vehicle.

Prince Harry and Meghan's 'paparazzi chase' wasn't 'nearly catastrophic,' says NYPD official (6)

The Sussexes' pursuers are said to have confronted police in uniform several times, but they continue their pursuit.

Harry and Meghan would have been in a private home and did not want to compromise the safety of their friend's home.

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Prince Harry and Meghan's 'paparazzi chase' wasn't 'nearly catastrophic,' says NYPD official (7) 1:20

Omid Scobie, who wrote the book Finding Freedom about Harry and Meghan, tweeted that a source said the Sussexes and Ms. Ragland were "understandably shocked". Yes, but thanks everyone for their safety."

Analysis: Paparazzi seem ready to go after Sussex no matter the risk

Laura Bendock

royal correspondent


It was impossible not to remember Diana. The photographer's relentless pursuit and brutal driving are only for the people in the backseat of the car.

According to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, what happened in Manhattan was horrific, dangerous and almost fatal.

Prince Harry is attracting a lot of attention and knew that the public outing with Meghan - his first since the coronation - would attract even more. But of course he wouldn't think about it.

America is now his home - one of the reasons he moved was to escape the British press. But the media is everywhere and the hunger for pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex seems insatiable.

In the past, Harry has talked about paparazzi jumping on the hood of his car.

But most poignant, of course, was when he spoke at length about Diana's relationship with the media and the constant distractions he had while growing up.

Losing his mother made him care more about his young family. In a recent interview, he said, "I never want to be in that situation...I don't want history to repeat itself."

What happened on the streets of Manhattan, far from royal life, showed us two important things.

For starters, the pair still have a keen interest in the media, with paparazzi hounding and harassing them.

Second, and perhaps more concerning, is their willingness to do it, regardless of the risks.

Photos that have surfaced on social media show Harry, Meghan and her mother Lady Ragland in a taxi.

The Duchess of Sussex has encouraged women to fight for equality at the annual Ladies Convention. Women's Foundation.

"It's never too late to start," she said at an event in New York. "You can be a dreamer in your own life...and there's so much to do."

Harry and Meghan resigned from royal duties in 2020 and moved to the United States, in part due to what they say is intense media harassment.

Prince Harry and Meghan's 'paparazzi chase' wasn't 'nearly catastrophic,' says NYPD official (9)

The prince has long spoken out about his anger at the media interference, which he blames for the death of his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a limousine crash in Paris in 1997 while on the run from paparazzi .

A chase ensued after a man was reportedly arrested for stalking outside Harry and Meghan's home in the early hours of Monday, TMZ reported.

A representative from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office told Celebrity News that security at the couple's Los Angeles estate called around 2 a.m. local time.

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