Britain’s Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and her mother were involved in a “near catastrophic car chase” involving paparazzi photographers after they attended an awards ceremony in New York, a spokesperson for the prince said on Wednesday.
The incident occurred after they left the Ms. Foundation for Women on Tuesday night, where Meghan was honoured for her work.
“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,” the couple’s spokesperson said in a statement.
The couple were shaken by the incident but otherwise unharmed.
“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 prince has long spoken out about his anger about press intrusion, which he blames for the death of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed when her limousine crashed as it sped away from chasing paparazzi in Paris in 1997.
The couple’s spokesperson said the chase could have been fatal and involved paparazzi driving on the sidewalk, running red lights, and driving while taking pictures.
Pictures that have appeared on social media show Harry, Meghan and her mother sitting in the back of a New York taxi.
The spokesperson said these were “a small glimpse at the defence and decoys required to end the harassment”.
“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 said. “Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all involved.”
Those involved in the chase were confronted by police officers multiple times, according to the spokesperson.
The New York Police Department said it had assisted the private security team protecting the couple.
“There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard,” an NYPD spokesperson said.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he had received a briefing that two NYPD officers could have been injured in the incident.
“I don’t think there’s many of us who don’t recall how, how his mom died,” Adams 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.”
He said he would get an in-depth briefing later, but 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,” Adams said.
The Ms. Foundation for Women, the organisers of the awards ceremony where Meghan was honoured for her work, had no immediate comment. Buckingham Palace also had no comment.
Harry and Meghan stepped down from their royal roles in 2020 and moved to the United States partly because of what they described as intense media harassment.
The prince is currently involved in numerous court cases in London where he has accused papers of using unlawful methods to target him and his family.
He is also seeking to overturn a decision by the British government to take away his specialist police protection when he is in Britain.