London: Competing claims surfaced Thursday over Prince Harry and his wife Meghan's purported involvement in a "near catastrophic car chase" with paparazzi in New York.
A spokesperson for the couple drew global attention by announcing Wednesday that they had endured a "relentless" two-hour pursuit that resulted in "multiple near collisions involving other drivers".
The account of Tuesday's incident prompted comparisons to the circumstances around the Paris car crash in 1997 that killed Harry's mother, Princess Diana, which the prince blames on paparazzi pursuing her. However, New York police, the city's mayor and a taxi driver who briefly transported the couple have played down the danger and duration of the reported pursuit. In an interview aired Thursday on Britain's ITV, one of the photographers involved in the drama alleged the couple's vehicle entourage were to blame for any danger.
"It was very tense trying to keep up with the vehicles," said the photographer, who asked to remain anonymous. "They did a lot of blocking and there was a lot of different type of manoeuvres to stop what was happening. "Their driver was making it a catastrophic experience." - 'Very chaotic' - He added Harry and Meghan's driver "wanted to drive fast, cut through lanes and do this and do that, go the wrong way".
The episode occurred after Harry, 38, and Meghan, 41, attended an awards ceremony in the US financial capital with Meghan's mother Doria Ragland. A New York police spokesperson said photographers made the group's transport "challenging", but there were "no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests". The York Post quoted a source as saying that there were no emergency calls to police about the incident and that the purported chase "definitely wasn't two hours". But Chris Sanchez, a member of the couple's security team, told CNN that the pursuit was alarming and dangerous. "I have never seen, experienced anything like this," he said. "What we were dealing with was very chaotic. The public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal." Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, has long had a difficult relationship with the media and in recent years has launched multiple ongoing lawsuits in Britain against outlets alleging privacy breaches. The couple relocated to North America after quitting royal duties in early 2020, in part citing press intrusion for the decision.