Prince Harry and Meghan Markle raised alarms Wednesday about a “near catastrophic,” more than two-hour paparazzi chase through Manhattan — drawing comparisons to Princess Diana’s fatal 1997 crash — even as cops said the supposed ordeal wasn’t nearly as dramatic as the couple claimed.
The high-profile yet photo-shy pair said via their rep that they were subjected to a “relentless pursuit” by “a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi” after leaving an event at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in Midtown on Tuesday night.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers,” the spokesperson said.
Asked about the statement at an unrelated press conference, Mayor Eric Adams branded the incident “reckless and irresponsible,” invoking Harry’s mom Diana’s name.
“I don’t think there’s many of us who don’t recall how his mom died,” the mayor said.
While the NYPD said the incident was under investigation, police also played down the couple’s high-drama claims, describing a somewhat hectic yet overall controlled scene.
“The NYPD assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” a spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
A high-ranking source added that there were “no collision reports or 911 calls” and that the chase “definitely wasn’t two hours.”
Harry, 38, and Meghan, 41, left the ballroom — where the former “Suits” actress was honored by Gloria Steinem at the Women of Vision Awards gala — with her mother, Doria Ragland, around 9:50 p.m. flanked by both a private security car and an NYPD vehicle.
Writer and photographer Lieba Nesis, who witnessed what happened, told The Post the trio was “dodging paparazzi all night” at the high-profile event.
“They came through the back through the Hertz car rental store, so despite the barricades and police presence up front, they dodged the paparazzi and headed through a secret entrance, so many [paparazzi] were left without pictures,” the witness said of their covert arrival.
Later, when Harry, Meghan and Ragland were getting back into their car, the witness said the photographers “were aggressive but not crazy.”
“When Meghan and Harry emerged … they had someone blocking their faces so despite the paparazzi waiting for more than four hours, none of them were able to get shots,” they explained.
One eyewitness told Page Six that the couple’s security “were being a–holes from the start.”
“They were mocking the paps, provoking them. You expect that kind of thing from security for rappers or whatever, but with good security — which this should be — you expect them to be similar to Secret Service. These security egged on the paps.”
A group of paparazzi followed the three vehicles, but photographers told Page Six it was the couple’s own security that was driving erratically — possibly to shake the shutterbugs and avoid revealing where the California-based couple was staying in the city.
The pair’s team even cautionedthe public against accessing photos of the alleged chase, which they said promoted “a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all involved.”
Chris Sanchez, a member of Harry and Meghan’s security detail,told CNNthat he believed the paparazzi put the public in danger, claiming “there were about a dozen vehicles, cars, scooters and bicycles” chasing them.
“The public was in jeopardy at several points,” Sanchez said. “It could have been fatal. I have never seen, experienced anything like this.”
The guard also claimed that at multiple points, paparazzi were jumping curbs and blowing red lights.
Police sources, however, stressed that “at no time was there a high-speed chase,” though two wheels of one vehicle did jump a curb at one point and two uniformed officers reported being “nearly missed” as the paparazzi took off.
The entourage spent about one hour driving in circles between West 57th Street and the FDR Drive in an attempt to lose the shutterbugs before stopping at the 19th Precinct on East 67th Street between Third Avenue and Lexington Avenue, according to sources.
From there, the exiled royals switched cars, getting into a yellow cab.
Speakingto The Post on Wednesday afternoon, cab driver Sukcharn “Sonny” Singh said he was hired to take the royals away from the precinct, but the trip only lasted 10 minutes as they asked to be taken back to the station.
Singh confirmed that the decision to go back came over fears that the paparazzi would continue following them and reveal their location.
The cabbie said six paparazzi surrounded his vehicle when they were stuck behind a garbage truck and that his vehicle was tailed by two cars.
“I never felt like I was in danger. It wasn’t like a car chase in a movie,” Singh said. “They were quiet and seemed scared, but it’s New York — it’s safe.”
After they went back to the station, sources said the couple made their own way home, which was just two blocks away from the precinct. A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan said they got home just after midnight.
Their dramatic description drew backlash from several journalists and celebrities.
Former Fox talk show host-turned-podcaster Megyn Kelly called their claims “bulls–t” and said it was impossible for a two-hour car chase to happen in Manhattan.
“Too many street lights/stop signs, too much foot/car traffic & hundreds of places you could safely pull over to protect yourself,” Kelly tweeted.“Also if they really want to avoid the paparazzi perhaps the Duchess should stop using them so obviously when she wants to see herself in the paper.”
British journalist Piers Morgan also weighed in on the incident, tweeting: “There was no 2-hour chase, their story is unraveling by the minute.”
Caitlyn Jenner, who is no stranger to getting chased by paparazzi, also suggested that the chase went nowhere near as long as she slammed Harry and Meghan.
“I have been party to paps following me in NY (definitely not 2 hrs and plenty of evidence – kind of the point since they have cameras), LA (even in a city with lots of driving and long distances between destinations, not 2 hours, and AGAIN LOTS OF EVIDENCE) it comes with the territory. Whine whine whine is all these 2 seem to do,” Jenner tweeted.
The couple was also mocked on social media for allegedly playing up the incident, with many invoking a recent “South Park” episode parodying their calls for privacy while also basking in the limelight.
Rob Shuter, a former publicist for Jennifer Lopez, P. Diddy and Princess Michael of Kent, also criticized the exiled royals for their behavior, saying it was unbecoming of celebrities in New York.
“What they did was not reasonable,” Shuter said. “We know where Beyonce lives. We know where Taylor Swift is staying. It’s New York City. If there were any real concerns over their safety, they could’ve just pulled over.”
News of Harry and Meghan’s nighttime press run-in also comes amid the prince’s ongoing legal battle over his security in the UK.
The Duke of Sussex’s private detail was revoked when he and Meghan decamped to California in 2020.
He is trying to secure the right to hire public police for his family’s protection when they visit his country.
Spokespersons for Buckingham Palace, as well as for Prince William and Princess Kate, have declined to comment on the incident.
Omid Scobie, a British journalist who covers Meghan and Harry, said that as of Wednesday afternoon, no member of the royal family has reached out to the Sussexes since the story broke.
Additional reporting byMara Siegler,Dana Kenedy, Craig McCarthy, Kevin Sheehan and Reuven Fenton
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In a statement to USA TODAY Wednesday, the couple's office said that the paparazzi's chase to capture photos of Harry and Meghan "resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers." The statement called the incident "near catastrophic."What NYC paparazzi said about Chase? ›
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The Treasury Historical Association donated to the Department a rare original relic - an 1862 photograph of Secretary Salmon Portland Chase. The image is important to Treasury in that it was used twenty years later by the photographer, Henry Ulke, to paint, posthumously, Chase's official portrait.What are the people who chase celebrities for photos? ›
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It comes from the Old French word 'chacier' which means 'to hunt'.What did Chase used to be called? ›
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