• Sat. May 20th, 2023

Harry, Meghan: Questions raised about ‘near-catastrophic’ New York car chase

The New York taxi driver involved in a two-hour “car chase” with Harry and Meghan as passengers says claims about the incident have been “exaggerated”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex say they were involved in a “near-catastrophic” two-hour “car chase” through the streets of New York.

People close to the Sussexes have claimed the scene was “chaotic” and that someone could have died due to photographers pursuing the royal couple on Tuesday night.

Police have said Harry and Meghan’s journey through Manhattan was “challenging”, but there were no crashes, collisions, injuries or arrests.

And the cab driver who had the royals unexpectedly in his back seat said: “I don’t think I would call it a chase.”

According to a spokesman for the Sussexes, the couple – plus Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland – found themselves aggressively followed by paparazzi after the Ms Foundation Women of Vision Awards event in Midtown Manhattan where the Duchess was being honoured.

According to reports, the trio left the venue at about 10pm on Tuesday night (noon Wednesday AEST) in an SUV.

They were followed by about 12 paparazzi, it’s been said, with “their security trying their best to lose [the photographers],” a source told the New York Post.

It was reported that a cameraman hit a car and another almost ran over a police officer.

The couple were said to be “upset and shaken”.

At some point the group was said to have ducked into a police station and then jumped into a cab apparently in a vain effort to shake off the photographers.

“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near-collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers,” a spokesman for the Duke and Duchess said.

He added that the chase was “near-catastrophic”.

‘Could have been fatal’

Talking to CNN, Chris Sanchez, a member of Harry and Meghan’s security detail, said there could have been deaths due to the pursuit.

“I have never seen, experienced anything like this. What we were dealing with was very chaotic.

“The public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal. They were jumping curbs and red lights.”

In a statement released to media, the New York Police Department (NYPD) said it had been assisting the Sussexes’ own security team but did not confirm a collision.

“There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging,” police stated.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests in regard.”

However New York City officials did say they understood two police officers could have been hurt.

Cab driver: ‘Chase’ claims ‘exaggerated’

The Washington Post interviewed the cab driver who confirmed he was waved down outside a police station at around 11pm and asked, “Do you want a fare?” by a security guard.

But his recollection of the incident varied from the Sussexes.

“I don’t think I would call it a chase,” Sukhcharn Singh said.

“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,” he was quoted as saying.

But Mr Singh did say the royals were being perused.

“They kept following us and were coming next to the car. They took pictures as we stopped and were filming us.”

Asked by the BBC if there was a “near-catastrophic chase” he said: “I don’t think that’s true. I think that’s all exaggerated.”

He added that for the portion of the drama he was witness to, he didn’t see aggressive behaviour from photographers such as, for instance, banging on windows.

It’s been reported the couple were staying at a house on New York’s Upper East Side, likely no more than a 15-minute drive from where they set off. But they did not want to return directly to the property over concerns the location would be revealed.

The cab driver said he eventually took the Sussexes and Ms Ragland back to the police station he picked them up from.

Talking to the BBC, Prince Harry’s former bodyguard Ken Wharfe also raised doubts about the stated version of events and how it was allowed to become so hectic.

He told the broadcaster it was highly unlikely that a two-hour “near-catastrophic car chase” took place.

Mr Wharfe said while the paparazzi can undoubtedly be a frustration, they “don’t go out to kill people”.

He said the chaos that unfolded may have been due to decisions made by the Sussexes’ security team to try to evade the paparazzi by allegedly speeding away.

“It seems to me there’s a breakdown in security, there’s a breakdown in liaison perhaps with the New York Police Department.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said any kind of chase on the city’s crowded streets was “extremely dangerous”.

“We have a lot of traffic, a lot of movement. A lot of people are using our streets. Any type of high-speed chase that involves something of that nature is inappropriate,” he said.

Mr Adams said he understood two police officers “could have been injured” during the incident.

A spokesman for the royal couple said they were “extremely upset and shaken,” according to the New York Post.

“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,” the statement continued.

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

Buckingham Palace has stated it would not be issuing a statement on the incident.

On Wednesday afternoon, New York time, author Omid Scobie, who is close to the Sussexes, jumped on the lack of a reaction from the palace or the Waleses.

“I understand that no member of the royal family has reached out to the Sussexes since today’s news broke four hours ago.”

Prince Harry is currently taking legal action against police in the UK for denying him the use of royal security while in Britain.

Read related topics:Meghan MarklePrince Harry

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