On Wednesday morning Prince Harry and his wife Meghan reported that on Tuesday evening, as they were leaving the Ziegfield Ballroom in Midtown Manhattan, they were recklessly chased at high speed for two hours around the city by paparazzi, and that they more than once avoided a near-catastrophic collision. Now there is widespread skepticism that the event occurred as they reported it.
The most telling indication that this may not have occurred is that there is no police report. A spokesman for the New York Police Department said that officers had assisted the couple’s security team Tuesday evening. “There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging,” the spokesman, Julian Phillips, said in a statement. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard.”
The spokesperson for the couple however, described the incident as a “near catastrophic car chase” that had lasted two hours and claimed that “despite confrontations by uniformed police officers, paparazzi continued their pursuit.”
There is as yet, no report available from the NYPD about any incident.
At an unrelated news conference on Wednesday morning, Mayor Eric Adams condemned what happened as “a bit reckless and irresponsible,” but clearly, did not seem to think it was as alarming as the Sussexes had described it, and expressed skepticism about its gravity.
“I would find it hard to believe that there was a two-hour high-speed chase.” He added that even a 10-minute pursuit would be “extremely dangerous in New York City. We have a lot of traffic, a lot of movement, a lot of people are using our streets.”
It is precisely because of the traffic and the snail-like pace at which it moves that multiple sources are dismissing the Sussexes’ report as hyperbole meant to whip up a little publicity.
“The event was at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in the middle of Manhattan. Right between Central Park and Times Square.100 police would be involved immediately if there was a high speed chase. Traffic in this area is atrocious during normal times. 10 MPH would be considered high speed trying to leave a large event from this area.”
Harry and Meghan have an ongoing feud with the paparazzi and some media organizations, and have taken legal action against several British newspapers for intrusions into their privacy. The prince, who was clearly traumatized by the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in an incident that mirrors the scenario he has described, has frequently repeated that tabloid media harassment of his wife reminded him of his mother’s experience.
Personal safety and tabloid reporting have become an enduring issue for the couple. Harry filed a legal claim against the government after Britain’s Home Office declined to allow him to pay for police protection when he and his family were in the country. Last year, a judge in Britain ruled that parts of a tabloid report on his fight with the government over protection were defamatory.
However, the public doesn’t buy the story of the high-speed chase around mid-town Manhattan and seems to be both skeptical and mocking. The most frequent responses on social media and comment boards point to the implausibility of a high-speed car chase around the traffic-choked city:
“High speed chase in NYC? Must have been the slowest high-speed chase in recorded history. At one point did they get passed by an old lady in a wheelchair rolling down the sidewalk?”