June 5, 2023

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Harry and Meghan’s paparazzi car chase in New York is ‘near-disastrous’, says spokesperson

LONDON (Reuters) – Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and her mother were involved in a “near-disastrous car chase” involving paparazzi after they attended an award ceremony in New York, a spokesman for the British prince said on Wednesday.

The crash involved half a dozen cars with blacked-out windows, driving dangerously, and endangering the lives of the couple, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, according to their spokesperson.

“Last night, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Lady Ragland were involved in a near-disastrous car chase by a highly aggressive gang of paparazzi,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“This relentless chase, which lasted for more than two hours, resulted in numerous near-misses involving two other drivers on the road, a pedestrian and two New York Police Department (NYPD) officers.”

The couple was shaken by the accident but not injured.

The prince has long spoken of his anger at the intrusive press that blamed him for the death of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed when her limousine crashed as she was driving away from a paparazzi chase in Paris in 1997.

A spokesperson for the couple said the chase on Tuesday, after they left the Ziegfeld Ballroom in midtown Manhattan, could be fatal and include paparazzi driving on the sidewalk, running red lights, and driving while taking pictures.

According to the spokesperson, those involved in the pursuit were confronted by police officers several times.

The New York Police Department said it was assisted by the special security team protecting the couple.

An NYPD spokesperson said: “There were several paparazzi who made their transportation difficult. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there have been no reports of collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests.”

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he received word that two NYPD officers were injured in the crash.

“I don’t think there are many of us who don’t remember how his mother died,” Adams told reporters. “And it would be horrible to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like that and something could have happened to them, too.”

He said he would get an in-depth briefing later, but found it hard to believe there could have been a two-hour high-speed chase.

“If it’s 10 minutes, a 10-minute chase would be very dangerous in New York City,” Adams said.

The Ms. for Women Foundation, the organizers of the award ceremony where Meghan was honored for her work, had no immediate comment. Buckingham Palace has also not commented.

‘High impact practice’

Pictures that have since surfaced on social media show Harry, Meghan and her mother sitting in the back of a New York taxi that their spokesperson said showed “a small glimpse of the advocacy and decoys required to end the harassment”.

The couple, who live in California with their two young children, were staying at a private residence but decided not to move back there because they didn’t want to compromise their host’s safety, according to their spokesperson.

“While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the expense of anyone’s safety,” the spokesperson said. “The publication of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous for all involved.”

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Harry has never hidden his dislike of the press, fueled by the treatment his mother received and his own experiences, especially when he was young.

In his memoirs Spear, the couple’s Netflix documentary series and TV interviews, he criticized British tabloids invading his and his family’s privacy, and that was one of the main reasons he and Meghan gave to step down from their royal roles in 2020 and move to the United States.

The prince is currently involved in several court cases in London where he has accused newspapers of using illegal methods to target him and his family. While newspapers have rejected nearly all of his claims, last week one publisher apologized for illegally seeking information about him in 2004.

He is also seeking to overturn a decision by the British government to withdraw his specialized police protection while in Britain.

(Reporting by Mike Holden, written by William James

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