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Witnesses say Harry and Meghan story about car chase was exaggerated

 May 18, 2023

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, claimed to have been involved in a dangerous and lengthy high-speed pursuit through New York City on Tuesday night while being chased by paparazzi.

Their account has been met broadly with skepticism, however, and the alleged details of the incident challenged as being "sensational" and "crazy hyperbole" by one of the photographers involved, according to People magazine.

The story has also been contradicted by a taxi cab driver who briefly gave the duke and duchess a ride, by the NYPD and New York City mayor, and by the agency that represents the freelance photographers whose job it is to take pictures of celebrities, among others.

Harry and Meghan Issue Statement About Alleged Paparazzi Chase

People reported that Harry and Meghan, accompanied by Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, and a small security detail, attended an awards show in which Meghan was honored but then faced a "near catastrophic car chase" instigated by "highly aggressive paparazzi" that lasted "over two hours" following the event.

A spokesperson for the Sussexes said in a statement on Wednesday, "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."

"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. Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all in involved," the spokesperson added.

Further, a member of the Sussexes security detail, Chris Sanchez, issued a statement to CNN that said, "I have never seen, experienced anything like this. What we were dealing with was very chaotic. There were about a dozen vehicles: cars, scooters, and bicycles. The public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal."

Photographer Calls Claims "Crazy Hyperbole," Taxi Driver Says It Wasn't A "Chase"

However, according to People, one of the photographers involved in the incident said the celebrity couple was being "sensational" to describe what occurred as "near catastrophic," and added, "Nobody got a ticket or arrested ... I don't see how it was near catastrophic other than crazy hyperbole."

Another source told the magazine that Harry and Meghan, "At any point, they could have gone to a police station or pulled into a garage" -- and it appears that they did go to a police station, albeit only to switch vehicles from their black SUV to a yellow taxi cab, presumably in an effort to ditch the following paparazzi.

Yet, in an interview with The Washington Post, cab driver Sukhcharn Singh offered up his own account of the brief period in which he transported the celebrity couple around before dropping them back off at their SUV.

Singh acknowledged that at least two vehicles were following his cab and taking pictures or shooting video at any given opportunity during the roughly 10-minute span when they were in his vehicle before the lone security guard riding with them determined that the cab wasn't safe and urged the driver to take them back to the SUV they left parked in front of a police station.

"I don’t think I would call it a chase," Singh said of the incident. "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."

Mayor Adams Skeptical of "Two-Hour Chase" Claims

The Post reported that a spokesperson for the NYPD issued a statement acknowledging that officers had "assisted the private security team protecting" the Sussexes Tuesday night, and said, "There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging," but added, "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests."

Even New York City Mayor Eric Adams, asked about the incident during a Wednesday press conference, expressed his skepticism about the claims made by Harry and Meghan even as he also expressed some sympathy for them in regard to the paparazzi, given what happened in 1997 when Harry's mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a car accident in Paris while allegedly trying to flee from aggressive photographers.

Asked specifically about the claim of a two-hour chase through New York City traffic, Adams replied, "I would find it hard to believe that there was a two-hour high-speed chase. That would be, I find it hard to believe, but we will find out the exact duration of it. But if it's 10 minutes, a 10-minute chase is extremely dangerous in New York City. We have a lot of traffic, a lot of movement, a lot of people are using our streets."

Photographer Agency Disputes Account But Opens "Thorough Investigation" of Claims

ET Online reported that the agency that represents the freelance photographers who were allegedly chasing the Sussexes, Backgrid USA Inc., issued a statement that largely contradicted the account of a chaotic and dangerous situation and clarified that the photographers were just doing their jobs and "had no intention of causing any distress or harm, as their only tool was their cameras."

Nevertheless, "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."