Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle were involved in a "near catastrophic car chase" involving paparazzi in New York late on May 16, 2023, a spokesperson for the couple said May 17


  • Harry and Meghan's rep cited Princess Diana's fatal car crash with paparazzi in 1997
  • The Sussexes' spokesperson called the PR stunt claims "abhorrent"
  • The statement came after social media users and TV commentators suggested the couple exaggerated the car chase

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's spokesperson has clapped back at critics accusing the couple of making their New York City car chase seem worse than it actually was in order to gain publicity.

In a statement to Page Six, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's publicist Ashley Hansen denied that the couple would ever use a pursuit with paparazzi as a "PR stunt" considering Prince Harry's mother Princess Diana died in a crash in 1997 after being chased through Paris by photographers.

"Respectfully, considering the duke's family history, one would have to think nothing of the couple or anybody associated with them to believe this was any sort of PR stunt," Hansen told the outlet. "Quite frankly, I think that's abhorrent."

Prince Harry and Markle were pursued by paparazzi after leaving the Women of Vision Awards at New York City's Ziegfeld Ballroom on May 16.

The following day, their spokesperson released a statement saying that the couple and Markle's mother Doria Ragland "were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi."

"This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers," the Sussexes' spokesperson added.

The announcement was met with skepticism given the traffic jams in Manhattan, and some social media users speculated that it was just a PR stunt.

"Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's claims of a paparazzi car chase was a PR stunt," one Twitter user claimed, while another claimed, "They created the situation, exaggerated it. PR stunt for relevance and free security from taxpayer[s]."

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams denounced the "reckless and irresponsible" chase, the New York City Police Department said there were no collisions or injuries.

"The NYPD assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging," the NYPD's statement said. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination, and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard."

Whoopi Goldberg was among those who expressed doubt about Prince Harry and Markle's version of events.

During an episode of "The View," she conceded that the royal couple was "dealing with aggressive paparazzi" at the time but claimed that car chases "[don't] work in New York."

"Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were followed by paparazzi while leaving the Ziegfeld Theatre. Their spokesperson called it a 'near-catastrophic car chase,'" she said. "Others said it wasn't bad, but I think people in New York know if it was possible to have car chases in New York, we'd all make it to the theater on time."

The "Sister Act" star's fellow panelist Joy Behar agreed with her, noting that high-speed chases are not possible in the Big Apple.

However, their co-host Sunny Hostin defended Prince Harry and Markle, pointing out that they never claimed it was a "high-speed" car chase. She also said the couple had the right to feel scared in that situation given Princess Diana's fatal car accident.

"If they felt scared, I will grant them that," she said. "When you look at a situation like this, where his mother died of a catastrophic car chase and he knows that and [Markle] knows that, I wouldn't wanna be in a situation where e-bikes and sedans are sort of following me aggressively around the city."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, attend the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala in New York City