Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and Markle’s mother Doria Ragland were targeted by paparazzi resulting in an allegedly dangerous chase.
The three were leaving the Ms. Foundation 2023 Women of Vision Awards: Celebrating Generations of Progress & Power on Tuesday (May 16) when their vehicle became the focus of intrusive camera flashes.
“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,” explained the couple’s spokesperson in a statement to PEOPLE the day following the ordeal.
“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.”
According to CBS News, ahead of the chase, the family circled around Manhattan close to the event venue for over an hour, accompanied by private security and the NYPD due to fears of paparazzi following them to their destination.
“Meghan was scared, Harry was nervous,” described Sukhcharn Singh, the taxi driver who gave the trio a ride. After 10 to 15 minutes, his passengers requested to be driven to a local police station where they were able to safely transfer vehicles and leave the area.
“Paparazzi just came out of nowhere, taking pictures, standing in front of the cab and all that.”
The intense swarm is described by Deadline as involving “half a dozen blacked-out vehicles with unidentified people driving recklessly and endangering the convoy and everyone around them.” The report alleges paparazzi vehicles made a handful of dangerous decisions, including driving on sidewalks, running red lights and traveling the wrong way down one-way streets.
Backgrid USA, a photo agency responsible for freelance photographers on the ground during the alleged car chase, issued a statement of its own per PEOPLE, claiming the royal family’s drivers were in the wrong.
“We want to clarify that we have received photos and videos of last night’s events from four freelance photographers, three of whom were in cars and one of whom was riding a bicycle. It is important to note that these photographers have a professional responsibility to cover newsworthy events and personalities, including public figures such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.”
The statement continues, “According to the accounts given by these freelance contributors, they were covering the couple’s stay in New York City, including the possibility of a dinner after an award ceremony. They had no intention of causing any distress or harm, as their only tool was their cameras. A few of the photos even show Meghan Markle smiling inside a cab. The photographers report that one of the four SUVs from Prince Harry’s security escort was driving in a manner that could be perceived as reckless.”
Closing out, the company asserted “We do, however, want to point out that according to the photographers present, there were no near-collisions or near-crashes during this incident. The photographers have reported feeling that the couple was not in immediate danger at any point,” adding “At BACKGRID USA Inc., we do not condone any form of harassment or illegal activity. We are taking Prince Harry’s allegations seriously and will be conducting a thorough investigation into the matter.”