Back in 1997, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris as her driver fled from aggressive paparazzi who were attempting to take her photograph against her will.
It was the defining event of Prince Harry’s childhood, and we’re sure it raced through his mind Tuesday night as he was pursued through the streets of New York City by overzealous photojournalists.
The evening began promisingly, as Harry and wife Meghan Markle attended the Ms. Foundation gala, where she received a Woman of Vision Award.
The couple was joined by Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, who rarely attends high-profile events, but who wanted to be on hand to see her daughter receive such a prestigious honor.
Sadly, the night descended into chaos when Harry and Meghan’s car was pursued by a pack of “highly aggressive” paparazzi after they left the ceremony.
In what must have been a terrifying ordeal, the Sussexes were reportedly pursued by 12 cars with blacked out windows, several of which ignored traffic laws and drove at high speeds in their efforts to invade the couple’s privacy.
“On Tuesday evening, May 16, the NYPD assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” an NYPD spokesperson said in a statement issued Wednesday.
“There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging,” the statement continued.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard.”
On social media and elsewhere, many have called the details of the Sussexes’ story into question.
Some have accused the couple of flat-out lying, arguing that it’s difficult to imagine a 13-car chase through Manhattan going on for two hours.
It’s important to note, however, that while Harry and Meghan have accused the paps of using unsafe driving methods in their pursuit, at no point did they claim that all parties were driving at high speeds for the entire two hours.
The more likely explanation is that the couple’s driver spent two hours trying to evade the pursuers so as not to lead them to where the Sussexes were staying for the night.
While he may have used evasive methods, there’s no reason to believe he was speeding.
Now, security experts have joined in on criticizing Harry and Meghan, with many alleging that the couple would not have found themselves in such a dangerous position if they had taken proper precautions.
“They likely did not have any formal protective training to deal with this type of situation,” Kent Moyer, president and CEO of the L.A.-based World Protection Group said to People magazine this week.
“Did they do any prior route planning? Did anyone do any kind of surveillance? And what was the plan to get out of a potential problem and did their security have any evasive driving training?”
“Did they have enough personnel within their detail?” asked Jerry Heying, the president and CEO of the New York-based International Protection Group
Moyer and Heying insist that paparazzi are generally not much of a threat in the US these days.
According to Heying, with sufficient “advance work” professional teams are usually able to “minimize any potential risks” and neutralize threats.
It’s strange that Harry would be lax in that department, given his tragic history with overzealous paps.
But perhaps he’s still adjusting to life in the US — and Meghan is still getting used to this frightening level of fame.
Meanwhile, New York City mayor Eric Adams has backed the Sussexes and vowed to investigate their claims.
“Public safety must always be at the forefront,” Adams told reporters on Tuesday.
“The briefing I received, two of our officers could have been injured. New York City differs from small towns. “You shouldn’t speed anywhere, but this is densely populated.”
By focusing on the public safety angle, Adams might be able to justify a costly investigation.
But he’s likely to receive criticism if he spends too much taxpayer money protecting “foreign dignitaries” like Harry and Meghan.
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as new information becomes available.