Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, were involved in a "near catastrophic car chase" with paparazzi photographers this week, a spokesperson for the royal couple told NBC News.
The alleged incident happened May 16 after Harry and the former Meghan Markle attended the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards at Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City. Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, was also in attendance with them.
“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,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD (New York Police Department) officers.”
Two senior law enforcement sources described it as a "bit of a chaotic scene" to NBC New York.
The sources said the couple left the theater around 10 p.m. ET with private security and were driven around the city for more than an hour with an NYPD escort to keep photographers off their trail.
Harry and Meghan were then briefly taken to a police precinct before leaving in a different car without being followed, according to the law enforcement sources.
Julian Phillips, deputy commissioner of public information for the NYPD, said in a statement that police “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,” the statement added.
Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace did not comment on the incident.
In a statement, a spokesperson from Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards condemned the incident.
"Last night, the Women of Vision Awards celebrated the incredible achievements of our honorees, marking the organization’s 50th anniversary of philanthropy in feminist movements," the statement reads. "The Ms. Foundation is absolutely horrified at the harmful actions post-event that endangered Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex and her family. Everyone, especially the media, must do better."
The alleged chase echoes the death of Harry's mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in 1997 when her limousine sped away from paparazzi in Paris.
“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," Harry and Meghan's spokesman said in the statement. “Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all in involved."
In 2020, attorneys for Harry sent a letter to British news outlets warning them that “action will be taken” if they purchase and/or publish any photographs taken by photographers trailing them under circumstances the letter describes as “harassment.”
“There are serious safety concerns about how the paparazzi are driving and the risk to life they pose,” the letter read.
At the time, he was living with Meghan and their son, Archie, in Canada after the couple stepped down from their duties as senior members of the royal family. The letter said paparazzi had camped outside the couple’s home to try to photograph them using long-range lenses.
The two have spoken about the relentless pressure of British tabloids as a factor in their decision to move to the U.S., where they have settled in California.