An eyewitness has claimed Harry and Meghan were "heckled" by paparazzi before they were involved in a reported chase through the streets of New York.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex claim to have been involved in a "near-catastrophic" car chase in the city while being followed by paparazzi, although some including NYPD sources and a driver played down the drama.
The couple were in New York on Tuesday with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, for the Ms. Foundation For Women's annual gala - a where the duchess received an award.
They entered the venue publicly, allowing photographers to get pictures, however on their way out, the trio were subjected to a "relentless pursuit" involving half a dozen blacked-out vehicles, the couple’s spokesperson said.
One eyewitness said the paparazzi were being "aggressive" and goaded the couple before pursuing them, following their first public appearance since King Charles III's coronation.
The comment is just one of a series of statements made about the incident — some of which dispute and some which support Harry and Meghan's version of events.
Here‘s what has been said…
Harry and Meghan
The duke and duchess statement 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.
Watch: Harry and Meghan in ‘near catastrophic’ paparazzi car chase
“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.”
Speaking to Sky News, the Sussexes' press secretary Ashley Hansen said: "I have never experienced their vulnerability as much as I did last night. They were incredibly scared and shaken up."
In a possible sign of Harry and Meghan's strained relationship with the rest of the family, Yahoo News UK's royal executive editor Omid Scobie tweeted on Wednesday night: "Spokespersons for both King Charles and Queen Camilla, and Prince William and Princess Kate have declined to comment.
"I understand that no member of the Royal Family has reached out to the Sussexes since today's news broke four hours ago."
The taxi driver
Taxi driver Sukhcharn Singh claimed to have transported Harry and Meghan for part of their journey and told the Washington Post his vehicle was pursued by two cars – a black Honda Accord and a grey Honda CR-V.
However, he said it did not think it could be described as a “chase”.
He said: “They kept following us and were coming next to the car. They took pictures as we stopped and were filming us.
“I don’t think I would call it a chase. 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.”
Harry and Meghan’s security
Chris Sanchez, a member of Harry and Meghan’s security detail, backed up the royal couple’s statement, describing the chase as “chaotic”.
He told CNN: “What we were dealing with was very chaotic. There were about a dozen vehicles: cars, scooters and bicycles.
“The public [was] in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal. They were jumping curbs and red lights. At one point they blocked the limousine and started taking pictures until we were able to get out.”
Sanchez added that he was “concerned” about Harry and Meghan but “more about the public” as the paparazzi “were being so erratic”.
Two NYPD detectives were present at the same event as Harry and Meghan and drove alongside the couple’s private vehicle, police sources told ABC News.
They say that photographers on bicycles are visible on security cameras rather than the large caravan reported by sources close to the couple.
The sources say that the police interaction with Harry and Meghan lasted no longer than 20 minutes and that if it carried on for two hours it would have been as a result of the couple’s security deciding to take an alternative route back to where they were staying.
New York’s mayor
Speaking on Wednesday, New York mayor Eric Adams condemned the photographers for being “reckless and irresponsible”.
He added that it would be “horrific” for Harry to be involved in an accident similar to the one that killed his mother Diana in 1997.
However, he cast doubt on the length of the apparent chase, saying he found it “hard to believe that there was a two-hour high-speed chase” in Midtown, but that “a 10-minute chase is extremely dangerous in New York City”.
He added: “It’s clear that the press, paparazzi, they want to get the right shot, they want to get the right story.
“But public safety must always be at the forefront. The briefing I received, two of our officers could’ve been injured.”
A statement from the NYPD confirmed that they had “assisted” Harry and Meghan’s security team but said there were no reports of any crashes.
The statement said: “On Tuesday evening, 16 May, the NYPD 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.”
Meanwhile former NYPD detective Bo Dietl dismissed the Sussexes' claims as "made up drama", adding that the police force will soon be able to establish what happened based on the number of street cameras in the city.
He told GB News: "This to me is the most ridiculous sounding thing in the world and I've been in the security business and retired from the Police Department for 38 years.
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"First of all, the most important thing is the safety of the person that you're guarding. The principle is the most important thing and they want you to believe for two hours they were chased by five blacked out SUV's, chasing them all through red lights, through speeds, hitting other cars, maybe hitting cops.
"This is, I think, part of the drama that is being made-up by them and again, you have cameras on every corner in New York City. This is going to be very easy to get the cameras and the police to investigate this."
A driver for the paparazzi
A paparazzi driver reportedly involved in the chase told Good Morning Britain this morning that it was a “catastrophic experience” – but appeared to shift the blame onto Harry and Meghan’s driver.
Despite claims the three of them were subjected to a “relentless pursuit”, the paparazzi driver said they were driving slower than Harry and Meghan’s driver and “hoping to keep sight of them”.
Speaking anonymously, the driver said: “For the most part, I was driving and it was very tense trying to keep up with the vehicles.
“They did a lot of blocking and there was a lot of different type of manoeuvres to stop what was happening.”
The paparazzi driver added the programme: “Their driver was making it a catastrophic experience… if they were going 80mph, I would probably have been going 20mph behind them and hoping to keep sight of them.
“So if it was dangerous and catastrophic, it was more than likely based on the person that was driving.”
Zara Sayeed says she saw Harry and Meghan being “heckled” by the paparazzi before they were “chased”, in scenes she described as “aggressive”.
Same said: “If I hadn’t seem them follow the car afterwards, I would be shocked by the news this morning.
“But the way I saw them follow the car, I wasn’t surprised by the headlines.
“A lot of the paparazzi were heckling Meghan and Harry and making negative comments, trying to get a reaction out of them.
“So it did get pretty aggressive.”
Sayeed said the way the paparazzi chased the couple “reminded you of all the other scenes you’ve seen in the past with Prince Harry’s mother”, and suggested that they goaded the couple.
She added: “They did say to Meghan for example, ‘How do you feel about being the reason that Prince Harry is no longer with his family?’”
In a statement, paparazzi agency BACKGRID USA said it had received photos and videos of last night’s events from four freelance photographers, three of whom were in cars and one of whom was riding a bicycle.
It added photographers had "no intention of causing any distress or harm, as their only tool was their cameras" and said there were no near collisions or near crashes, adding: "The photographers report that one of the four SUVs from Prince Harry's security escort was driving in a manner that could be perceived as reckless.
The company said it will conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.