Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Rep Blasts 'Abhorrent' Idea New York Car Chase Was a 'PR Stunt'

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said the dangerous nature of the Manhattan car chase was not exaggerated

<p>James Devaney/GC Images</p> Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

James Devaney/GC Images

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s spokesperson has commented on their car chase in New York City.

In conversation with The New York Times, Ashley Hansen denounced the notion that the May 16 incident was exaggerated.

“Respectfully, considering the duke’s family history, one would have to think nothing of the couple or anybody associated with them to believe this was any sort of P.R. stunt,” Hansen said in an interview last Friday. “Quite frankly, I think that’s abhorrent.”

Last Tuesday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were followed by photographers after leaving the Ms. Foundation 2023 Women of Vision Awards in Manhattan with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland. Meghan, 41, was recognized as a Woman of Vision Award honoree for her global advocacy to empower women and girls, and brought her husband and mother to the event as her surprise guests.

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty Images</p> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

RELATED: How Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Feeling After Car Chase: 'They Were Shaken'

The next day, a spokesperson for Meghan and Prince Harry said the trio was trailed so aggressively it created a “near catastrophic car chase.” The news drew parallels to the death of Prince Harry’s mother Princess Diana, who died in a 1997 car crash in Paris that also involved photographers pursuing her vehicle.

"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 for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a statement to PEOPLE on May 17. "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."

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty Images</p> Doria Ragland, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Doria Ragland, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

In the hours that followed, the New York Police Department released a statement to PEOPLE confirming that authorities assisted Prince Harry and Meghan's security team, saying their travel was made "challenging" by paparazzi, adding that there were no collisions, injuries, or arrests.

"The NYPD assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging," the statement said. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard."

RELATED: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Car Chase in New York City: Everything to Know

Some cast doubt on what transpired that night, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

<p>Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images</p> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

“I would find it hard to believe there was a two-hour high-speed chase. I find it hard to believe, but we will find out the exact duration of it. A 10-minute chase is extremely dangerous in New York City. Police do it under limited circumstances when they're going after violent people, but to do it because you want to get the right shot can turn out to be a place where people can be harmed in a real way,” Adams said while briefly speaking about the car chase during an unrelated public safety announcement on May 17, in a clip shared by Sky News.

Taxi driver Sukhcharn Singh, who drove Meghan, Prince Harry, 38, and Doria, 66, at one point during the evening, told The Washington Post, "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.”

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The New York Times got in touch with event photographers for perspective, “a few” of whom were at the Women of Vision Awards. One said he chased Harry and Meghan that night but declined to share further information.

While speaking to the Times, Prince Harry and Meghan’s spokesperson debunked the idea that it was fair for photographers to follow them because they couldn’t get shots of them leaving the awards, and pointed to pictures as proof.

“They were some of the most beautiful images of the evening,” Hansen said.

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