A celebration of women’s empowerment turned into a harrowing moment after Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry left a charity event in New York City and faced a paparazzi “car chase.” Also in the news: President Joe Biden is in Japan Thursday but won’t stay abroad long before returning to debt ceiling negotiations in Washington. Montana is the first state in the United States to ban the Chinese-owned app TikTok.
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Sanchez said he “was concerned about the principals (Prince Harry and Meghan) but more about the public because they (the paparazzi) were being so erratic. People were on sidewalks and crossing streets and the (paparazzi) were crossing red lights. We did everything by the letter of law.”
Harry and Meghan switched cars “more than once” during the car chase, Sanchez said. The couple was seen leaving the awards ceremony in a black car and they were spotted in a yellow cab later.
After the incident, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were “were scared, exhausted, but relieved to be back,” he added.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) said it had been assisting the Sussexes’ private security team on Tuesday evening and that “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,” said Julian Phillips, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information at the NYPD.
“They had this look on their faces,” the driver, Sukhcharn Singh, said. “All of a sudden paparazzi came out and started taking pictures.”
Police issued a short statement confirming an incident Tuesday night involving photographers and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who were accompanied by Meghan’s mother.
In video posted to social media, the couple is seen leaving Manhattan’s Ziegfeld Ballroom — where Meghan had just accepted the Ms. Foundation’s Woman of Vision Awards with Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown — and getting into an SUV as crowds of pedestrians and photographers gawked.
Harry and Meghan’s vehicle was then followed by photographers in a scene that their office said “resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers.” The couple’s office called the incident “near catastrophic.”
Police intervened and, assisting the couple’s private security detail, led them to a police station about 18 blocks from the ballroom, a law enforcement official.
“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,” the couple’s office said in a statement.
Bruce Cotler, the president of the New York Press Photographers Association, said the way photographers allegedly acted Tuesday night violated the basic photojournalism principle of covering news “as documentarians and observers” and the code of ethics to which his members and “any press photographer with respect for themselves and the profession” are expected to adhere.
The award presentation was Meghan’s first public appearance since she skipped the coronation of her father-in-law King Charles III earlier this month in order to stay at home in California for her son Prince Archie’s fourth birthday. Harry attended the coronation.
The gala kicked off the Ms. Foundation’s largest fundraising campaign ever — $100 million over the next 12 months that will be used to further the organization’s equity-centered initiatives and its mission of advancing women’s collective power.
He added: “If it was dangerous and catastrophic, it was more than likely based on the person that was driving.”
Photo agency Backgrid USA said it received photos of the event from photographers, “three of whom were in cars and one of whom was riding a bicycle”.
The agency said it took Prince Harry’s allegations seriously and would be conducting its own investigation, but that according to the photographers, “there were no near-collisions or near-crashes during this incident”.
“It is important to note that these photographers have a professional responsibility to cover newsworthy events and personalities, including public figures such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle,” the agency added.
The couple were in New York attending an awards ceremony – the Ms Foundation Women of Vision Awards – along with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland.
When they were chased after leaving, the spokesperson said, they tried to take shelter from the paparazzi by going to a Manhattan police station – which is where Mr Singh picked them up.
For at least the few minutes they were in Mr Singh’s car, he did not believe they were in danger.
“I don’t think that’s true, I think that’s all exaggerated and stuff like that. Don’t read too much into that,” Mr Singh said of the statement. He later added “that must have happened before” they got in his taxi.
“New York City’s the safest place to be,” he continued. “There’s police stations, cops on every corner, there’s no reason to be afraid in New York.”
The paparazzi were not being aggressive during his drive, he said.
“They were behind us. I mean, they stayed on top of us, that was pretty much it, it was nothing more. They kept their distance.”
“At the end of the trip, they say, ‘Oh nice meeting you’,” and asked his name, Mr Singh recalled. As his passengers disembarked, the security guard paid and tipped him for the ride.
“It was great. Ten-minute drive, $50,” he said. “What can you ask for? You can’t beat that!”
Was Mr Singh dazzled by his famous passengers? Not particularly.
“I have also picked up Keith Richards in my cab as well,” Mr Singh said. “I pick up celebrities all the time. I didn’t think much of it when they got in, either.”
After speaking to reporters for a few minutes, Mr Singh got back in his yellow cab and drove off to Midtown, for another long day of ferrying passengers.
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