NEW YORK (AP) — Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, were pursued in their car by photographers after a charity event in New York, an injury-free incident that the mayor and the couple’s office described Wednesday as potentially dangerous and that stirred memories of the 1997 car crash that killed Harry’s mother, Princess Diana.
With the help of New York City police, the couple was eventually able to switch to a taxi cab and be whisked away, according to a law enforcement who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.
The New York City police department confirmed the incident involving photographers and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex but said no injuries, collision or arrests took place after Meghan accepted an a ward from the Ms. Foundation.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams told reporters he hadn’t received a full briefing yet, but he called it “reckless and irresponsible” for anyone to be chasing people in vehicles in the densely populated city, and said that “two of our officers could have been injured.”
Harry and Meghan’s office said in a statement that the chase “resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers.” It called the incident “near catastrophic.”
“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 statement from the couple said.
Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, and the former actress Meghan Markle married at Windsor Castle in 2018. They stepped down as working royals in 2020, citing what they described as the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media.
Harry’s fury at the media has been building for years. He blames an overly aggressive press for the death of his mother, and also accuses the media of hounding Meghan.
He has made it his mission to reform the press and is currently suing three British tabloid publishers over alleged phone hacking and other unlawful snooping. Meghan won an invasion of privacy case in 2021 against the publisher of the Daily Mail.
Security for Harry and Meghan has been an issue since the British government stripped them of protection when they moved to California in 2020 and it figures in three of his legal cases against the government and tabloid press.
The pursuit in New York occurred the same day a lawyer for Harry argued in a London court that he should be able to challenge a government decision denying him the right to pay police for his own security in the U.K.
Harry has argued his safety was “compromised due to the absence of police protection” during a short visit to the U.K. in July 2021, when his car was chased by photographers as he left a charity event.
The couple have said they funded their own security after former President Donald Trump said the U.S. government wouldn’t pay to protect them.
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, had been in New York to accept the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Award with Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown.
The gala kicked off the foundation’s largest fundraising campaign ever — $100 million over the next 12 months — that will be used to further the organization’s equity-centered initiatives and its mission of advancing women’s collective power.
With her mother, Doria Ragland, in the audience, Meghan recounted how Ms. Magazine was always in their house and how it affected her world view.
“It 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 not be afraid of saying what is true and what is just and what is right,” she said, looking over at Ms. Foundation co-founder Gloria Steinem.
Video taken by bystanders and posted on social media showed Harry and Meghan exiting Manhattan’s Ziegfeld Ballroom and getting into an SUV as crowds of pedestrians and photographers gawked.
They were followed by photographers and, aided by police officers assisting their private security detail, went to a police station about 14 blocks away. They spent several minutes there waiting for the situation to de-escalate and, once it was safe, left in a yellow taxi cab, according to a law enforcement official.
The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and did so on condition of anonymity.
Sukhcharn Singh was driving his yellow cab on 57th Street, near an NYPD precinct a few blocks south of Central Park, when a security guard waved him down, he said. Singh pulled to the curb and in came Harry, Meghan and her mom.
“I don’t know if you can call it a chase,” said Singh. “Nothing really happened.”
Another video posted by TMZ showed the couple in a yellow New York City taxicab, stuck in traffic several blocks away from the ballroom, as photographers recorded them through the windows. The cab was being escorted by NYPD vehicles with flashing lights.
The event was Meghan’s first public appearance since she skipped the coronation of her father-in-law King Charles III earlier this month in order to stay at home in California for her son Prince Archie’s fourth birthday. Harry attended the coronation.