The recent scandal involving Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who allegedly “narrowly avoided an accident” due to paparazzi pursuit, continues to be discussed in the media. This time, The New York Times released an article in which reporter Jacob Bernstein collected comments from photographers— both those involved in the incident and industry professionals — and attempted to figure out what really happened.
The subject of discussion in the article was a scandal that occurred in mid-May when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attended the Woman of Vision award ceremony in New York City. According to the couple, as they were leaving the event, paparazzi allegedly pursued them in a “dangerous” chase, putting Harry and Meghan at risk. The story gained significant resonance, especially in light of the fact that Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, tragically died in a car accident while being pursued by photographers.
The rumor of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry being chased spread worldwide from New York City, a city “not particularly known for paparazzi chases, which are considered a common occurrence in Los Angeles and Europe,” as noted in the article.
Several photographers “expressed a firm belief that the reports of the chase were fabricated or exaggerated.” Several sources interviewed by The New York Times, who attended the event, contradicted the reports of a threat to the lives of the celebrity couple.
The author of books about the Royal Family, Tina Brown, stated in an interview with the publication that the whole story “sounds somewhat ridiculous.”
Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, condemned the incident as “reckless and irresponsible” behavior by the photographers. However, he also mentioned that he was slightly puzzled by reports of a two-hour high-speed car chase in the center of Manhattan, where traffic is usually barely moving due to constant congestion. In fact, the police eventually concluded that the “incident did not require further investigation.”
The article also includes the words of representative Ashley Hansen, who considers the attempts to accuse Harry and Meghan of using the paparazzi as a P.R. stunt “disgusting.” She also requested that the “family history of the Duke of Sussex” be taken into account, reminding everyone of the tragedy that occurred with his mother due to photographers.
Meanwhile, society photographer Steve Eichner who worked for Vogue, WWD, and Variety believes that Princess Diana’s death only “reinforced public stereotypes about people in this profession.” “After her death, I remember being on the red carpet at events, and people would drive up, roll down their windows, and scream, ‘You murderers! You murderers!’ Even though I’ve never chased celebrities in my life,” he noted.
According to Steve Sands, another photographer who spent a significant portion of his life photographing celebrities, the blame for the tragedy was entirely placed on the photographers in the Princess Diana incident, and few paid attention to the fact that the paparazzi were chasing a “drunk driver” who was transporting the Princess and was “determined to present himself as a hero.” A police investigation later revealed that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was approximately three times the legal limit.
Also in the article, the author writes about the difficult financial situation of paparazzi who are trying to earn money by taking pictures of celebrities in “real-life” situations. Such shots usually bring more profit, but “the days of jackpots worth $100,000 are over,” several people said.
“At the same time, paparazzi complaints about their dire situation are less likely to evoke greater sympathy than statements from a man whose mother died in a car accident while trying to escape from them,” the journalist writes.
Freelance photographer Roger Wong was among the paparazzi attempting to photograph Meghan and Harry before and after the Woman of Vision ceremony. According to him, no one was expecting the Prince to be there; everyone was only preparing to meet Meghan. Despite the presence of dozens of other celebrities at the event, Wong believed that Meghan was the only star whose photograph could fetch him over a hundred dollars. The first surprise for the paparazzi was the appearance of Prince Harry. And the second was the impossibility of capturing the couple properly: instead of posing for photographers at the entrance, Meghan and Harry went to a nearby car rental facility and used a different entrance to bypass people with cameras.
Due to such chaos, several photographers decided to give chase. New York freelance photographer Michael Stewart told several media outlets that six cars were involved in the pursuit: three belonging to Meghan and Harry, and the other three carrying paparazzi. Additionally, about a dozen people with cameras were following them on bicycles. Stewart himself was on an electric bicycle. During the chase, the security personnel would transfer Harry and Meghan into different cars to confuse the paparazzi.
Eventually, the couple ended up in a taxi driven by a person named Sukhcharn Singh. Subsequently, he told journalists that Meghan and Harry were nervous during the trip, which he would hardly describe as dangerous.
The Backgrid agency, representing at least two photographers who pursued the royal couple in cars, has issued a statement. Company representatives stated that while they will investigate the incident, their photographers have reported that the couple was not in immediate danger.
When Prince Harry’s representative demanded that the agency hand over the recorded material, they were refused.
“In America, the property belongs to its owner; third parties cannot simply demand it is handed over to them, as Kings might do. Perhaps you should speak to your client and inform him that his English rules, whereby members of the Royal Family can demand citizens surrender their property to the Crown, were rejected by this country long ago. We stand by our founding fathers,” the official statement says.
One of the agency photographers agreed to disclose the details of the chase and honestly explain how “dangerous” it was for Meghan and Harry. However, he refused to speak to journalists when he found out he wouldn’t be paid. “Neither the public nor the police have anything to worry about,” he stated briefly.
The paparazzi also noted that if desired, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry could have attended the event and left in such a way that the photographers wouldn’t have even noticed them. However, the couple, who regularly complain about the excessive attention from the media and the public, allegedly deliberately caught the attention and provoked the chase.
It should be noted that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have long had a difficult relationship with the paparazzi, including the British ones. According to the couple, the real “hunt” by the media began after they decided to get married in 2017. Since then, the paparazzi have been closely monitoring every step of the couple and trying to uncover details of their romance, which strained Prince Harry’s relationship with the Royal Family. In The Sun and Mirror tabloids, there have been numerous scandalous articles about the couple, and Meghan and Harry themselves have accused journalists of pursuit.