Harry and Meghan ‘not contacted by royal family' after car chase in New York
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have not been contacted by the royal family after claiming to have been involved in a “near-catastrophic” car chase, the PA news agency understands.
Harry and Meghan were followed by paparazzi after attending an awards ceremony with the duchess’s mother Doria Ragland in New York on Tuesday, the couple’s spokesperson said.
Despite claims the three of them were subjected to a “relentless pursuit” involving half a dozen blacked-out vehicles, it is understood no members of the royal family had reached out as of 10pm on Wednesday.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman declined to comment.
In an earlier statement on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Harry and Meghan said: “Last night, 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.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers.
“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.
“Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all involved.”
A taxi driver who claimed to have transported them for part of the journey told The Washington Post his vehicle was pursued by two cars: a black Honda Accord and a grey Honda CR-V.
However, Sukhcharn Singh told the BBC claims about the paparazzi chasing them may have been exaggerated as they were not “aggressive”.
It is understood that Harry, Meghan and Ms Ragland were staying at a private residence and did not want to compromise the security of their friend’s home.
The trio had been at the Ms Foundation for Women’s 50th anniversary gala event, which honoured “game-changing” grantee partners and visionary leaders committed to the organisation’s mission of “advancing collective power and creating safe, just and equitable futures for women, girls, and gender-expansive people”.
Meghan received the Ms Foundation’s Women of Vision Award, recognising her “global advocacy to empower and advocate on behalf of women and girls”.
It was Harry and Meghan’s first public appearance together since the duchess’s absence at the King’s coronation earlier this month.
It is understood that the couple believe the pursuit could have been fatal, as it involved six blacked-out vehicles with unidentified people driving recklessly and endangering the convoy and everyone around them.
Harry and Meghan are said to accept a heightened level of attention when they are at public events, and in this case they exited and entered the venue publicly, allowing photographers to get pictures.
It is said that traffic violations included driving on the pavement and through red lights, reversing down a one-way street, illegally blocking a moving vehicle and driving while photographing and while on the phone.
It is also said that while those involved were confronted by uniformed police multiple times, they continued the pursuit, and that there is footage taken from security along with other evidence to support these allegations.
New York Police Department, which deployed officers to help escort the duke and duchess, said “numerous photographers” had “made their transport difficult” on Tuesday evening.
The statement said there were “no reported collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests”.
Mr Singh, who goes by the name Sonny, told the BBC he picked up the four passengers on 67th Street between Lexington Avenue and 3rd Avenue.
He said: “A security guard hailed me, next thing you know Prince Harry and his wife were hopping into my cab.
“As we went a block, we got blocked by a garbage truck and all of a sudden paparazzi came and started taking pictures.
“They were just about to give me the location of where they were going to go, but then they told me to circle back to the precinct.”
He also told The Washington Post: “I don’t think I would call it a chase. I never felt like I was in danger. It wasn’t like a car chase in a movie. They were quiet and seemed scared but it’s New York – it’s safe.”
Speaking on Wednesday, New York mayor Eric Adams condemned the photographers for being “reckless and irresponsible”.
He added that it would be “horrific” for Harry to be involved in an accident similar to the one that killed his mother Diana in 1997.
Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a crash after her car, driven at speed by a drunk chauffeur, was chased through the streets of Paris by paparazzi photographers.