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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Car Chase in New York City: Everything to Know

A spokesperson for the couple tells PEOPLE they were involved in a "near catastrophic car chase" following the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards on May 16

Kevin Mazur/Getty Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Kevin Mazur/Getty Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

New details are emerging after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were involved in what was called a "near catastrophic car chase" by their spokesperson.

On Tuesday, May 16, the Duchess and Duke of Sussex stepped out at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City for the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards as Meghan was honored as one of this year's Woman of Vision Award honorees for her advocacy to empower women.

The couple and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, were photographed by paparazzi outside the venue as they entered the event before taking photos inside together.

Meghan was also photographed with Teresa Younger and Gloria Steinem, who presented her with the award on stage.

After Meghan accepted her award, the parents of two were photographed by paparazzi again as they left the venue before the pursuit by paparazzi occurred.

Here's everything to know about the night.

Related:Prince Harry Drove Through Tunnel Where His Mother Died at Same Speed: 'I Want to Go Through It'

Who was involved in the car chase?

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Doria Ragland, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Doria Ragland, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

The car chase involved Meghan, Prince Harry and Meghan's mother, Doria, a spokesperson for the couple said in a statement to PEOPLE. The spokesperson added that the incident involved "a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi" who were in pursuit of the couple.

What happened during the car chase?

A spokesperson for Meghan and Prince Harry referred to the incident as a "near catastrophic car chase" that lasted "over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers."

Meghan, Prince Harry and her mother Doria were making their way back to a friend's private residence, where they were staying, and did not want to compromise the location, PEOPLE has learned. PEOPLE was told that the paparazzi cars were behaving unsafely, including running red lights and taking photographs while driving.

The NYPD released a statement about the events, saying, "On Tuesday evening, May 16, the NYPD assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 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."

Have Meghan Markle and Prince Harry released a statement about the car chase?

James Devaney/GC Images
James Devaney/GC Images

A spokesperson for the couple shared a statement to PEOPLE on Wednesday morning, saying, "Last night, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Ms. 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."

"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," Prince Harry and Meghan's spokesperson added.

The spokesperson also said, "Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all in involved."

Related:Prince Harry Asked to See Photos of Princess Diana's Car Crash: 'I Was Looking for Evidence...It Was True'

Has the NYPD released a statement about the car chase?

On Wednesday morning, the New York Police Department said in a statement: "The NYPD assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 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."

Has Mayor Eric Adams released a statement about the car chase?

During a public safety announcement about retail theft on Wednesday morning, a reporter asked New York City Mayor Eric Adams if he could share any information or comment about the chase.

"It's clear that the press, paparazzis, they want to get the right shot, they want to get the right story, but public safety must always be at the forefront," Adams said.

"Two of our officers could have been injured," the mayor continued. "New York City is different from a small town somewhere. You shouldn't be speeding anywhere, but this is a densely populated city and I think all of us ... I don't think there's many of us who don't recall how [Prince Harry's] mom died and it would be horrific to lose innocent bystanders during a chase like this, and something to have happened to them as well, so I think we have to be extremely responsible." He added, "I thought that was a bit reckless and irresponsible."

When asked by another reporter about the duration of the chase, Adams said he is still being briefed on the incident, but said, "I would find it hard to believe there was a two-hour high-speed chase." However, he said even if it was a 10-minute chase, it would still 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," Adams added. "Any type of high speed chase that involves something of that nature is inappropriate."

Has Buckingham Palace released a statement about the car chase?

Buckingham Palace had no comment about Meghan and Prince Harry's car chase when reached by PEOPLE. The palace does not comment on matters related to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex since they stepped back from their royal roles in 2020.

King Charles continued his royal duties on Wednesday, including an outing in London with Queen Camilla early in the day.

Have the photographers released a statement about the car chase?

On Wednesday afternoon, photo agency BACKGRID USA Inc. shared a statement to PEOPLE about the incident. "At BACKGRID USA Inc., we value transparency and ethics in journalism, which include providing fair and factual responses to claims. We are aware of Prince Harry's statement regarding an alleged 'near catastrophic car chase' involving himself, Meghan Markle, and her mother, in New York City on Tuesday night," the statement began.

They added that they "received photos and videos of last night's events from four freelance photographers, three of whom were in cars and one of whom was riding a bicycle."

"According to the accounts given by these freelance contributors, they were covering the couple's stay in New York City, including the possibility of a dinner after an award ceremony," the statement continued. "They had no intention of causing any distress or harm, as their only tool was their cameras. A few of the photos even show Meghan Markle smiling inside a cab."

The statement added that "the photographers report that one of the four SUVs from Prince Harry's security escort was driving in a manner that could be perceived as reckless. The vehicle was seen blocking off streets, and in one video, it is shown being pulled over by the police. We understand that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's security detail had a job to do, and we respect their work. We do, however, want to point out that according to the photographers present, there were no near-collisions or near-crashes during this incident. The photographers have reported feeling that the couple was not in immediate danger at any point."

The statement concluded: "At BACKGRID USA Inc., we do not condone any form of harassment or illegal activity. We are taking Prince Harry's allegations seriously and will be conducting a thorough investigation into the matter."

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