Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s statement about their “near catastrophic car chase” created a media frenzy on Wednesday as the couple’s detractors cast doubt on their claim that aggressive paparazzi wreaked havoc on the streets of New York City.
“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. This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers,” a spokesperson told Yahoo. (Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, was with them.) “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 NYPD, Mayor Eric Adams and even a taxi driver involved have all spoken out in the aftermath of the situation. Here’s what we know about the timeline of events surrounding the incident.
Tuesday, May 17
8:00 p.m.: Harry and Meghan attend an awards event at Ziegfeld Ballroom in midtown Manhattan. The Duchess of Sussex was honored by the Ms. Foundation for Women for her global advocacy work empowering women and girls.
9:50 p.m.: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex depart the event with their private security team and chaos ensues. The couple, along with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, are trying to get back to where they are staying on the Upper East Side, but don’t want paparazzi to know the location. The NYPD later confirms police “assisted” as photographers “made their transport challenging.”
The cars spend about one hour driving in circles between FDR Drive and West 57th Street, a police source tells Page Six, before stopping at a precinct.
Other sources claim two uniformed police were “nearly missed” by paparazzi as Harry, 38, and Meghan, 41, left the theater.
10:50 p.m. (approx): A vehicle transporting Meghan and Harry arrives at the New York City Police Department’s 19th precinct on East 67th Street. Two senior law enforcement sources tell NBC New York they stayed there around 15 minutes before police help secure them another vehicle.
11:05 p.m. (approx): Meghan, Harry and Ragland jump into a taxi cab. The driver, Sukhcharn Singh, later tells the Washington Post he drove the group a block and a half west to Park Avenue before heading south. He says they were pursued by two vehicles.
“They kept following us and were coming next to the car,” he recalls. “They took pictures as we stopped and were filming us.”
The couple’s security told Singh to return to the precinct. The driver estimates that they were in the cab for 10 minutes.
“I don’t think I would call it a chase,” the driver notes. “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.”
11:15 p.m. (approx): Meghan and Harry return to the precinct. It’s unclear how long they are there, but the NYPD says the group ultimately returned safely to the Upper East Side. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard,” they later share.
Wednesday, May 18
A spokesperson for the couple issues the scathing statement against the paparazzi, which immediately draws comparisons to the late Princess Diana. It didn’t take long for some to question the couple’s claim of an aggressive pursuit by the paparazzi “lasting over two hours” in New York City — including public officials.
During an unrelated press conference, Mayor Adams expresses doubt about the length, but cautions even a 10-minute chase is “extremely dangerous.” He says he was informed “two of our officers could have been injured.”
In the afternoon, a “high-ranking source” within the NYPD, according to Page Six, reiterates the department’s statement that cops had “no collision reports or 911 calls” related to the incident.
“We only had one car as part of this. [The chase] definitely wasn’t two hours,” the insider alleges.
Harry and Meghan do not issue another statement despite scrutiny. However, a member of their security team, Chris Sanchez, speaks on the record to CNN.
“What we were dealing with was very chaotic,” Sanchez, a former Secret Service member, shares. “I have never seen, experienced anything like this. 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 adds.
Sanchez says he “was concerned about them [Harry and Meghan] but more about the public because they [the paparazzi] were being so erratic. People were on sidewalks and crossing streets and the [paparazzi] were crossing red lights. We did everything by the letter of law.”