- Sean Coughlan & Bernd Debusman Jr
- BBC News
A spokesman for the couple said Prince Harry, Meghan and his mother were involved in a “near catastrophic car chase” involving the paparazzi.
The incident happened after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended an awards ceremony in New York on Tuesday.
In a statement, their spokesperson said the “non-stop pursuit” lasted more than two hours.
They said this resulted in close encounters.
The BBC was unable to independently verify the details.
In a statement, the New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed that an incident had occurred and that numerous photographers had “their [Harry and Meghan’s] Traffic is challenging”.
No injuries or arrests were reported. Buckingham Palace has yet to comment.
Half a dozen cars were involved in the chase, which involved reckless driving, including going through red lights, driving on sidewalks, making blocking moves and reversing on a one-way street — as well as taking photos while driving.
Details are emerging about what may be disturbing scenes. The couple and Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, went to a Manhattan police station and tried to hide from the paparazzi.
Later there was a plan to use a New York taxi, a cab was flagged down and Harry and Meghan got in, but eventually it was discovered and they returned to their own security vehicles.
The driver of the taxi, Suksharn Singh, said he never felt in danger and would not call it a “chase”.
“They were quiet and seemed scared but it’s New York — it’s safe,” he told the Washington Post.
The BBC understands the pair were staying at a friend’s house and did not return directly to avoid compromising their safety.
It is also said that the pursuit did not stop in the presence of New York police officers. The couple uses private security while in the US.
“While being a public figure comes with the public interest, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety,” a spokesperson for the couple said.
“The dissemination of these images, given the means by which they were obtained, encourages a highly invasive practice that is dangerous for all involved.”
The awards ceremony they attended – the Ms Foundation Women of Vision Awards – was Harry and Meghan’s first public appearance since the King’s coronation earlier this month.
Meghan accepted an award alongside Black Voters Matter co-founder Latosha Brown at the event.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams told reporters that two police officers were “potentially injured” and that it was “terrible to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this.”
Mr Adams said that while the two-hour high-speed chase was “hard to believe”, even a 10-minute chase in congested New York was “very dangerous”.
Duncan Larcombe, author of the book Prince Harry: The Inside Story, told the BBC that “something seems to have gone terribly wrong” with Harry and Meghan’s security in the country.
“It’s going to be a big surprise for those who have been looking after Harry in England,” she said. “There are big questions that need to be asked about whether the paparazzi can still operate this way.”
Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997 after being chased by photographers.
In an interview with the BBC for the documentary Diana, 7 Days, Prince Harry referred to the paparazzi who constantly hounded his mother as “a pack of dogs”. “Every time she goes out there’s a crowd waiting for her,” he said. “I mean a pack of dogs, chasing her, chasing her, harassing her, calling her names, spitting on her, trying to get a reaction, trying to get that photo of her lashing out.”
Prince Harry is currently embroiled in several legal battles with British tabloids, including allegations of phone hacking and illegal information gathering.
Earlier this week, a lawyer for the prince told a London court that he should be allowed to challenge a government decision to deny him the ability to pay for police protection while in the country.
The pair stepped down from royal duties and moved to the US in 2020 – which they said was partly due to harassment from UK tabloids.
Prince Harry has described his fight to change the media as his “life’s work”. He is due to appear in a London court next month to give evidence in the phone hacking case.