A member of the security team protecting Prince Harry and Meghan has described a “chaotic” chase in New York involving paparazzi photographers on Tuesday, saying it could have ended with fatalities.
Speaking exclusively to CNN, Chris Sanchez said the Sussexes were chased by photographers after leaving the Women of Vision Awards at the city’s Ziegfeld Ballroom.
In the end, no one was injured and the couple arrived safely, but shaken, at the apartment where they were staying, he said.
“I have never seen, experienced anything like this. What we were dealing with was very chaotic. There were about a dozen vehicles: cars, scooters and bicycles,” Sanchez said.
“The public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal. They were jumping curbs and red lights. At one point they blocked the limousine (carrying the couple) and started taking pictures until we were able to get out,” he added.
Police said the incident was “challenging” but there were no collisions and no one was hurt.
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.
Prince Harry has been outspoken about the security of his family, often comparing his wife’s treatment to that of his mother, Diana.
The couple’s spokesperson said that 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” and called on the media not to publish photographs from the incident.
A local law enforcement source corroborated some of the couple’s account, telling CNN that they were followed by a “swarm” of paparazzi on Tuesday.
The mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, said the incident was “reckless” and “irresponsible.”
Buckingham Palace told CNN on Wednesday that it would not be commenting on the incident.