Londres (News) — There is no denying the echoes to the death of the late Princess Diana in 1997 in a car accident in Paris. More than 25 years later, her son and her wife were chased through the streets of New York this week in what her team called a “near catastrophic” car chase.
Such language makes it difficult not to evoke the tragic memory of the circumstances that led to the loss of one of the most beloved members of the British royal family.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in New York to attend the Ms. Foundation’s Women of Vision Awards, where Meghan was honored for her global advocacy for women’s and girls’ empowerment. This being her first public appearance since Prince Harry returned from King Charles III’s coronation in London, it had at first seemed like a fairly routine affair.
The couple posed on the red carpet before entering, where Meghan collected her award. It wasn’t until after the event that the situation escalated, and the details vary depending on who you talk to.
The couple’s spokesman described “a very aggressive group of paparazzi” who followed them for more than two hours, prompting worldwide coverage. The spokesman stated that there were several clashes with other drivers, pedestrians and police officers.
Police later confirmed the broad lines of the account, but offered less colorful language, describing the situation simply as “challenging.” Questions continued Thursday over exactly what happened, and for how long, in a city famous for its traffic congestion. News has not independently verified all the details of the couple’s account, but in the light of a new day, a clearer picture is emerging.
this is what we know
The couple were seen leaving the awards ceremony in a black car, but were later seen in a yellow taxi. Chris Sánchez, who was part of the royal security detail, told us that they were immediately followed by a dozen vehicles. He said that he had “never seen or experienced anything like it” and that “the public was in danger at various times.” He also explained that the couple had switched cars “more than once” during the incident.
Thomas Buda, who runs a private security company hired to help the couple, corroborated Sánchez’s account of the reckless driving of the vehicles that followed them and the Sussexes’ changing cars. He said the couple’s convoy took a circuitous route from 23rd to 96th Streets, up and down busy Manhattan arteries, before security took the couple to the 19th Precinct on East 67th Street.
From there, the couple were transferred to a yellow taxi, but it ended up going around the block and returning them to the police station.
Taxi driver Sukhcharn Singh told News that he did not feel threatened by the encounter with the photographers but that Harry and Meghan seemed “nervous and scared”.
The couple was finally able to make a clean exit during the midnight change of patrol officers, which effectively caused a traffic choke point on the block, allowing security teams to take Harry and Meghan away, according to Buda. .
To answer the question of why this elaborate cat-and-mouse game played out, Harry’s team told us that the couple were staying at a private residence and didn’t want to compromise the security of their friend’s house by coming straight back from the awards. . Meanwhile, a law enforcement source also said the couple did not stay at a hotel, but at a private residence on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and chose to keep the location secret so they could come and go.
Statements from the NYPD, the city’s mayor and the police source also support that the couple was followed, although those perceptions of events are less emotionally charged.
The NYPD issued a more benign statement, saying it had “assisted the private security team” in which “there were numerous photographers who made their transportation difficult.” New York Mayor Eric Adams questioned the two-hour timeframe, but added that regardless of the length, the incident was “reckless” and “irresponsible.”
“Of course the paparazzi want to get the right photo, they want to get the right story, but public safety must always be at the forefront,” Adams said.
In a statement obtained by News on Thursday, the photo agency Backgrid USA said it was taking the allegations by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “seriously” and would conduct an investigation. However, they also backed down, saying that photographers on the scene had reported “the feeling that the couple were in no immediate danger at any time.”
The agency stressed its commitment to transparent journalism, including the need to provide “fair and objective responses to complaints.”
“We want to clarify that we have received photos and videos of last night’s events from four freelance photographers, three of whom were driving and one was riding a bicycle. It is important to note that these photographers have a professional responsibility to cover newsworthy events and personalities, including public figures such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle,” the statement outlines.
“According to the accounts given by these freelance contributors, they were covering the couple’s stay in New York City, including the possibility of a dinner after an awards show. They had no intention of causing any distress or harm, as their “The only tool was their cameras. Some of the photos even show Meghan Markle smiling inside a taxi,” the statement continued.
Backgrid’s statement also counterclaims that one of the four jeeps in the royal convoy “drove in a manner that could be perceived as reckless” and rejects the allegation that the incident could have resulted in a fatal disaster.
From all this, it is clear that something happened on Tuesday night, although perceptions differ.
In fairness to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, they have never claimed that a “high speed” chase took place. Conversations with a member of their entourage have also made it clear that they felt that they had adhered to the speed limits, that the couple never felt threatened but the lives of others did.
News made the decision, like many other news outlets, not to publish the photos taken after the couple left the engagement at the Ziegfeld Ballroom. However, those images appear to show Prince Harry documenting the moment with his phone, so it’s possible that in the future we’ll learn more about exactly what transpired from his perspective.
It is well known that Harry blames the tabloids for his mother’s untimely death. He has already recounted on other occasions that each camera flash takes him “directly” to one of the worst moments in his life. He has been very steadfast in his commitment to ensuring that history does not repeat itself with his wife and has not been shy about holding the media to account through legal action for what he considers particularly invasive methods.
It is likely that you have thought about all of this during this evening episode. Even the most staunch critics could understand the kind of traumatic resonance that may have surfaced for Harry in this situation.
Another notable element is the silence of his family. Both Buckingham Palace, where the king resides, and Kensington Palace, where the Prince of Wales is based, declined to comment on the story. We know that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not hear from the royal family after the story broke, as would be expected under normal family circumstances. But, given the estrangement between the two parties, there was likely to have been a broader decision that the house simply cannot respond to or engage with the headlines that surround Prince Harry and Meghan every time they have a tangle with the press.
— John Miller, Kristina Sgueglia, Zenebou Sylla, Paradise Afshar, Sugam Pokharel, Jessie Gretener and Sammy Mncwabe contributed reporting.
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