On Prince Harry And Meghan Markle's Distressing Car Chase

The couple reported that they were involved in a risky chase with New York paparazzi after attending an awards ceremony last week. 

While leaving an awards ceremony hosted by the Ms. Foundation for Women, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were chased by members of the New York paparazzi. With them during the distressing incident was Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland.

The couple released an official report on Wednesday detailing the events that transpired. As with most incidents involving more than one party, the accounts were conflicting. 

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during the Royal British Legion Festival in 2019
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during the Royal British Legion Festival in 2019/Photo via Instagram @sussexroyal

Paparazzi and certain witnesses said that the chase was “exaggerated”, while the Sussexes (as well as their spokesperson and security personnel) confirmed that the incident was a threat to their safety—as well as the public’s. 

New York police stated that there were no reported collisions, injuries, arrests, or summonses; however, they did share that the “numerous photographers” made the Sussexes’ journey “challenging.”

Two Taxing Taxi Rides

The couple, and Meghan’s mother, left the awards ceremony last Tuesday, boarding a black SUV at 3:00 BST. It’s reported that they were staying at a friend’s place in the city, but didn’t want to return there directly due to security concerns. 

According to law enforcement, their taxi circled the venue of the ceremony for roughly an hour in order to evade the relentless paparazzi. This proved to be unsuccessful, pushing the couple to make a stop at the New York police department’s 19th precinct station. 

From the police station, the duke and duchess hailed another taxi driven by Sukhcharn “Sonny” Singh in order to shake off the photographers. 

New York's streets
New York’s streets/Photo by Nout Gons via Pexels

This was another difficult endeavor, as Signh told the BBC that the car was eventually blocked by a garbage truck and swarmed by paparazzi. The couple then asked him to drive them back to the police station, where they would revert to their own security vehicles

Although the driver reported that the couple “looked nervous,” he also stated that the photographers pursuing them were not aggressive. 

On the other hand, a member of the Sussexes’ security team, Chris Sanchez, told CNN: “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. They were jumping curbs and red lights. At one point they blocked the limousine [carrying the couple] and started taking pictures until we were able to get out,” he added. 

Papparazzi
Photo by Brett Sayles via Pexels

The couple’s spokesperson, Ashley Hansen, bolstered the claim by stating that Singh’s report only covered the 10 minutes he spent driving them. According to her, the ordeal lasted for “over two hours.”

Luckily, a traffic congestion later in the evening blocked off the paparazzi, and with the help of security teams, the couple was finally able to make their escape. 

The Press Speaks

Four freelance photographers under entertainment picture agency Backgrid, were said to have been involved in the incident. They’re currently undergoing investigation, and the group shared that they never meant to cause the couple distress. 

According to the agency, the paparazzi in question were expecting the Sussexes to have dinner after the ceremony, and were hoping to capture the moment. 

Backgrid also stated that the duke and duchess’ vehicle was “driving in a manner that could be perceived as reckless.” The Sussexes’ entourage denied this, stating that the couple’s transport remained within reasonable speed limits. 

At present, it’s difficult to confirm what really happened that evening, as no official videos or photos of the chase have been released. 

Contesting the Skeptics

Given the heavy traffic usually found in New York, certain netizens expressed their skepticism on the incident’s gravity, wondering if it was really possible to have a high-stakes car chase in the city. 

However, it’s worth noting that the couple didn’t claim that the paparazzi were moving at high speeds, as reported in an article by CNN. Rather, they stated their concerns regarding the party’s disregard for the couple’s safety and other traffic rules—which could’ve endangered pedestrians and the like. 

Harry and Meghan attending the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day
Harry and Meghan attending the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day/Photo via Instagram @sussexroyal

Regardless of what happened on that night, the duke and duchess’ spokesperson has directly contested speculations on the chase being a form of PR stunt to generate sympathy for the couple. 

“Respectfully, considering the duke’s family history, one would have to think nothing of the couple or anybody associated with them to believe this was any sort of P.R. stunt,” she shared with the New York Times. “Quite frankly, I think that’s abhorrent.”

The Pont de l'Alma Tunnel in Paris where Princess Diana was involved in a fatal car crash
The Pont de l’Alma Tunnel in Paris where Princess Diana was involved in a fatal car crash/Photo by Erik1980 via Wikimedia Commons

Everyone is, of course, entitled to their own opinions. However, many have pointed out that Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, died in a similar incident involving paparazzi. In 1997, photographers pursued the car of her and her fiancee, Dodi al-Fayed, while riding motorcycles. The high-speed chase resulted in the princess’ tragic death. 

The funeral procession of Princess Diana
The funeral procession of Princess Diana/Photo by PaddyBriggs via Wikimedia Commons

Harry was only 12 years old when the disaster struck, so it’s worth noting that the recent and distressing incident may have hit a little too close to home for the prince. “Even the most ardent critics could understand the kind of traumatic resonance that may have surfaced for Harry in this situation,” wrote Max Foster and Lauren Said-Moorhouse in their CNN feature.

Banner photo via Instagram @sussexroyal.

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