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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were involved in a "nearly catastrophic" incident with the paparazzi on Tuesday night, their spokesperson says, immediately drawing parallels to Princess Diana's death in 1997. The car chase happened after the Duchess of Sussex received an award in New York City. Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, was also in the vehicle. Several people involved are speaking out to the media.
"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 [New York Police Department] officers," a rep for the couple says to Yahoo Entertainment. "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 NYPD tells Yahoo, "On [Tuesday] evening, May 16, the NYPD assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 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."
Two senior law enforcement sources tell NBC New York that Harry and Meghan left the venue with private security at 10 p.m., and in order to keep the press from finding out where they were staying, were driven around the city for a little over an hour with a NYPD escort. They were eventually driven to a police precinct, changed cars and left without being followed. The sources described it as a "bit of a chaotic scene."
When the couple left the precinct they hopped in a taxi cab — however the driver did not call what ensued a "chase."
Sukhcharn Singh spoke to the Washington Post and said he picked up the Duke and Duchess, along with her mother and a member of their security team, outside the New York City Police Department’s 19th precinct on East 67th Street. They were pursued by two vehicles.
"They kept following us and were coming next to the car," Singh recalled. "They took pictures as we stopped and were filming us."
"I don't think I would call it a chase," the driver added. "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."
The security guard was concerned and had Singh return to the police station. The journey lasted about 10 minutes, Singh said.
A member of Meghan and Harry's security team spoke to CNN and said, "I've never seen, experienced anything like this."
"What we were dealing with was very chaotic," the former Secret Service member added, noting there were about a dozen vehicles following them. "The public were in jeopardy at several points, it could have been fatal."
Exclusive: Member of Prince Harry and Meghan's security detail tells @MaxFosterCNN there were about a dozen vehicles pursuing the couple after last night's event in NYC.
"The public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal." pic.twitter.com/BqF3V0ZvWC
— CNN International PR (@cnnipr) May 17, 2023
Mayor Eric Adams told reporters at an unrelated news conference on Wednesday that he was informed "two of our officers could have been injured."
"It's clear that the press, the paparazzi, they want to get the right shot," he said, per the New York Times. "But public safety must always be at the forefront."
Mayor Adams expressed doubt there was "a two-hour high speed chase" in the city, but said even a 10-minute chase would be "extremely dangerous." He added that "you shouldn't be speeding anywhere" and recalled how Princess Diana died.
"I don't think there's many of us who don't recall how his Mom died," he continued, "and it would be horrific to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this and for something to have happened to them as well. I think that was a bit reckless and irresponsible."
Meghan and Harry made their first red carpet appearance together on Tuesday since the coronation of King Charles III. The Suits star received the Ms. Foundation's Women of Vision Award at the organization's annual gala for her global advocacy work empowering women and girls.
Prince Harry has spoken out before about how he sees a parallel between the British press's treatment of his mother and wife.
"My biggest regret is not making more of a stance earlier on in my relationship with my wife and calling out the racism when I did. History was repeating itself. My mother was chased to her death while she was in a relationship with someone that wasn't white and now look what's happened. You want to talk about history repeating itself, they're not going to stop until [Meghan] dies," he said in 2021 on AppleTV's The Me You Can’t See.
"It's incredibly triggering to potentially lose another woman in my life, but the list is growing. And it all comes back to the same people, the same business model, the same industry. My father used to say to me, when I was younger, he used to say to both William and I, 'Well, it was like that for me. So it's going to be like that for you.' That doesn't make sense — just because you suffered, it doesn't mean that your kids have to suffer," Harry added. He and Meghan stepped back from their roles as senior members of the royal family in 2020.
During her speech last night, Meghan talked about how the media frenzy that's encompassed her life made her realize a "greater" purpose.
"The narrative on repeat that surrounded me allowed me to recognize that part of my greater value and purpose in life was to advocate for those who felt unheard, to stand up to injustice, and to be not afraid of saying what you know is true, and what is just, and what is right," Meghan said.
It's been a scary week for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. On Monday, a man was arrested at their home in Montecito, Calif. for stalking.
This is a breaking news story. Yahoo is updating with more information as it unfolds.