Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Spokesperson Slams "Abhorrent" Rumors They Faked Car Chase For PR

For Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, what started as a picturesque night celebrating women's philanthropy at the 2023 Women of Vision Awards on May 16 quickly turned into a nightmare where history could've repeated itself.

At the Ms. Foundation For Women's 50th annual Women of Vision Awards, Prince Harry and Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, were both in attendance to see Markle receive with one of the night's honors. The happy family smiled for cameras and were filmed looking cheerful as they left the New York City ceremony. However, things went south: a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed in a statement that paparazzi chased the family relentlessly after the event.

"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 Sussex spokesperson said in a statement to POPSUGAR. "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."

Additionally, royal reporter Omid Scobie tweeted: "Despite being confronted by uniformed police multiple times, the paparazzi's cars continued their pursuit in trying to follow the Sussexes and Doria to the private residence they were staying at. Traffic violations by the drivers include driving on a sidewalk, going through red lights, reversing down a one way street, driving while photographing and illegally blocking a moving vehicle. Photos of the couple that came as a result from the two-hour chase briefly appeared on the Daily Mail this morning but have since been removed." He noted that a source close to the Sussexes said Harry, Markle, and Ragland are "understandably shaken but thankful everyone's safe."

In a statement to POPSUGAR, the New York Police Department said: "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."

And during a May 17 press conference, NYC's mayor, Eric Adams, slammed the behavior of the paparazzi involved. "It's clear that the press, paparazzis, they want to get the right shot, they want to get the right story, but public safety must always be at the forefront," Adams said (via People). "Two of our officers could have been injured. New York City is different from a small town somewhere. You shouldn't be speeding anywhere, but this is a densely populated city and I think all of us ... I don't think there's many of us who don't recall how [Prince Harry's] mom died, and it would be horrific to lose innocent bystanders during a chase like this, and something to have happened to them as well, so I think we have to be extremely responsible."

Amid unfounded allegations in the week following the incident, a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex slammed the implication that the couple fabricated their experience for publicity in a May 23 statement (via Page Six). "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 PR stunt," they said. "Quite frankly, I think that's abhorrent." Reps for the Sussexes did not immediately respond to POPSUGAR's request for additional comment.

Prince Harry's mother, the late Princess Diana, died in a car crash in 1997 while attempting to evade the aggressive pursuit of paparazzi in Paris. As a result, Prince Harry is passionate about stopping the invasive, unlawful, and dangerous tactics some news media resort to in order to obtain their scoops. He's currently suing the UK's Associated Newspapers in this pursuit of change.