UPDATE, 2:30 PM: Prince Harry’s family has nothing to say publicly about the paparazzi car chase through Manhattan that King Charles III’s youngest son and Meghan Markle experienced last night.
Buckingham Palace said Wednesday they had no comment about the incident.
More from Deadline
While fairly traditional for the Royal household to stay mum, even more so with Harry and Meghan’s estrangement from the family, the lack of a response does seem tin-eared in this particular case. It is striking how similar on the surface the pursuit Harry and Meghan endured last night seems to be to the fatal chase that killed Harry and his brother Prince Williams mother Diana, Princess of Wales, on the streets of Paris in August 1997.
As a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex put out a statement claiming a “near catastrophic car chase,” and the NYPD and New York Mayor Eric Adams have commented on what occurred, the Palace filled its day with the smiling King’s activities, at least on social media:
This afternoon at Buckingham Palace, the Rt. Hon. Humza Yousaf MSP (First Minister of the Scottish Government) was received in audience by The King. pic.twitter.com/Ia31WKeeiP
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) May 17, 2023
👏 Congratulations to the 2023 @PrincesTrust Award Winners!
Following last night’s ceremony, The King welcomed the winners to Buckingham Palace to continue the celebrations and congratulate them on their achievements.
Find out more: https://t.co/ProT7EaUe6 pic.twitter.com/oHCbB9wMc5
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) May 17, 2023
PREVIOUSLY, 10:17 AM: Despite doubters, the New York Police Department has confirmed that there was indeed a paparazzi pursuit of the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last night.
As more details of the late night “near catastrophic car chase,” as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s spokesperson termed it, emerge, the NYPD put their own more understated stamp on the incident:
On Tuesday evening, May 16, the NYPD assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard.
While no one was hurt or taken to hospital and it might not have been the pedal to the metal chase Harry and Meghan’s camp are claiming, the allegedly approximately 120-minute pursuit seemed to involve cars, scooters and motorbikes whipping up on sidewalks and in front of the couple’s vehicle after they exited a charity event at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in midtown Manhattan. Harry and Meghan’s private security and a trope of NYPD officers attempted evasive maneuvers, and things could have gotten messy, but didn’t, law enforcement sources say.
Not wanting to lead the photographers to the private residence where the California-based couple were staying, Harry and Meghan’s car led a drive through the streets of NYC. To throw off the photographers, the couple, Meghan’s mother and a security guard at one point jumped in a taxi after spending a short time in a local police station. Soon after some more driving around with photographers following, the group returned to the 19th precinct as things calmed down. After cops blocked off traffic, the Royal party soon afterwards continued on to the Upper East Side private residence in question in Harry and Meghan’s own vehicle.
Earlier today, the Royal heir’s team said: “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.”
In language clearly invoking the paparazzi car chase that killed Harry’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales in Paris in 1997, the spokesperson added, “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.”
Previous to the NYPD’s more measured statement, there had been no independent verification of the incident, which led to some postulating it was being exaggerated at best. Buckingham Palace has been silent on the car chase so far.
In an unrelated press conference Wednesday, NYC Mayor and former NYPD officer Eric Adams addressed the incident. “I think all of us – I don’t think there’s many of us who don’t recall how [Harry’s] mom died, and it would be horrific to lose innocent bystanders during a chase like this and something to have happened to them as well,” the Mayor said. “So I think we have to be extremely responsible. I thought that was a bit reckless and irresponsible.”
However, the Mayor was openly skeptical about the claims of Harry and Meghan’s team about the duration of the chase. “I would find it hard to believe that there was a two-hour high speed chase,” he noted. We have a lot of traffic, a lot of movement, a lot of people are using our streets,” he added, stating that even a chase as long as just 10-minutes would be “extremely dangerous” in Manhattan.
Along with the former Suits actress’ mother Doria Ragland, the couple were attending the Ms. Foundation’s Women of Vision Awards on May 16 in the Big Apple. Receiving an award from Gloria Steinem, the Duchess was being honored for her global advocacy to empower women and girls.
This was the first public appearance by Meghan since her father-in-law King Charles III’s coronation in London on May 6. Under the auspices of her son Archie’s birthday falling on the same day, the Duchess did not attend the pomp and ceremony-drenched event with her husband. The youngest son of Charles and Diana’s unsuccessful marriage, Harry was in the UK for less than 28 hours total for the coronation and did not appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with his father, his stepmother now Queen Camila and his older brother the Prince of Wales and other so-called “working Royals.”
Estranged from his family the past several years, Harry has spoken and written at length in his best selling memoir Spare about the battles he and Meghan have had with the Royals and their court.
At the same time, and perhaps made all the more poignant by last night’s events, Harry has taken the British government and the Metropolitan Police to court in the UK over the lack of official security he, Meghan and their two children now receive when in the country.
The privacy seeking Prince is also suing the British tabloids.
Harry, Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley and nearly 100 other plaintiffs have taken the Mirror Group Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, to court over allegations of phone-hacking and other misconduct from between 1991 and 2011. Harry is set to testify next month in the case, the first member of the Royal family to take to the stand in such a case in over 125 years.
Best of Deadline