Harry and Meghan's description of 'near catastrophic' car chase was 'exaggerated', says driver

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The incident happened after Prince Harry and Meghan had attended an awards ceremony, ITV News' Dan Rivers reports from New York

Harry and Meghan said they were in a "near catastrophic" paparazzi car chase in New York - but taxi driver who transported them said this description is "exaggerated".

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, were involved in a car chase after being followed by photographers on Tuesday night.

Speaking after the incident, taxi driver Sukhcharn Singh said the couple looked "nervous" but he did not feel in danger.

Mr Singh said: “I was crossing on 67th Street, and then the security guard hailed me, and next thing you know Prince Harry and his wife were hopping into my cab."

Asked what he thought of the description of the incident as "near catastrophic" he said: "Oh I don’t think that’s true. I think that’s all exaggerated and stuff like that.

"So don't read too much into that, you know."

Taxi driver Sukhcharn Singh said the claims the car chase was 'near catastrophic' were exaggerated

The incident happened after Prince Harry and Meghan had attended an awards ceremony in New York on Tuesday evening, according to a statement from the couple's spokesperson.

In a press conference on Wednesday, New York Mayor Eric Adams recalled the crash that killed Harry's mother, Princess Diana, in 1997, saying it would have been "horrific" to lose an innocent bystander to the incident.

In a separate statement, the New York Police Department said "numerous photographers" made the couple's transport "challenging", but added "there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests".

Meanwhile, the cab driver, Sukhcharn Singh, has said that he instantly recognised his passengers when they entered his vehicle.

The Sussex's spokesperson had 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.

"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.

"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 this image from video, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan exit Manhattan's Ziegfeld Ballroom. Credit: AP

Harry and Meghan are said to believe the pursuit could have been fatal, as it involved six blacked-out vehicles with unidentified people driving recklessly and endangering the convoy and everyone around them.

It is understood that the traffic violations that occurred on Tuesday night included:

  • Driving on the pavement and through red lights

  • Reversing down a one-way street

  • Illegally blocking a moving vehicle

  • Driving while photographing and while on the phone

It's also thought that while those involved were confronted by uniformed police multiple times, they continued the pursuit and that there is footage taken from security along with other evidence to support these allegations.

Mr Singh told the Washington Post his vehicle was pursued by two cars: a black Honda Accord and a grey Honda CR-V.

A member of the couple’s security team, Chris Sanchez, told CNN that he found the incident alarming.

“I have never seen, experienced anything like this,” he said.

“What we were dealing with was very chaotic. There were about a dozen vehicles: cars, scooters and bicycles.”

The Duchess of Sussex (centre) with the Duke of Sussex and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland. Credit: AP

Harry, Meghan and Ms Ragland are understood to have been staying at a private residence and did not want to compromise the security of their friend’s home.

Mr Sanchez described the couple as scared, but were relieved when they returned to the apartment where they were staying.

“The public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal,” he said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams told reporters he hadn’t received a full briefing about the incident yet, but he called it “reckless and irresponsible” for anyone to be chasing people in vehicles in the densely populated city, and said that “two of our officers could have been injured”.

Mr Adams also said: "I don't think there's many of us that don't recall how his mum died, and it would be horrific to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this and for something to have happened to them as well."

The trio had been at the Ms Foundation for Women’s 50th anniversary gala event which honoured “game-changing” grantee partners and visionary leaders committed to the organisation’s mission of “advancing collective power and creating safe, just and equitable futures for women, girls, and gender-expansive people”.

Meghan received the Ms Foundation’s Women of Vision Award, recognising her “global advocacy to empower and advocate on behalf of women and girls”.

The Duke of Sussex writes about grief over his mother’s death in his book Spare. Credit: PA

It was Harry and Meghan’s first public appearance together since the duchess’s absence at the King’s coronation earlier this month.

The couple have said they accept a heightened level of attention when they are at public events, and in this case they exited and entered the venue publicly, allowing photographers to get pictures.

Harry’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a crash after her car, driven at speed by a drunk chauffeur, was chased through the streets of Paris by paparazzi photographers in 1997.

Soon after he began dating the then-Suits actress Meghan, Harry attacked the media over its “abuse and harassment” of his girlfriend.

“This is not a game – it is her life,” Kensington Palace warned on his behalf in 2016.

The incident in New York has taken place while Harry attempts to bring a second legal challenge against the Home Office over his security arrangements when in the UK.

Harry is seeking the go-ahead from the High Court to secure a judicial review over a decision that he should not be allowed to pay privately for his protective security.

The early stage legal action is among five other civil cases that the duke is pursuing through the court in London.

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