CNN  — 

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan were involved in a chaotic car chase with paparazzi in New York on Tuesday night that could have resulted in a “catastrophic” outcome, their spokesperson has alleged.

The Sussexes were pursued by photographers after leaving the Women of Vision Awards at the city’s Ziegfeld Ballroom in a convoy that also included Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mother. The couple were left shaken by the incident, although ultimately no-one was hurt, their security detail told CNN.

Police said “numerous” photographers made the Sussexes’ transport “challenging,” but that there were no reported collisions, injuries or arrests.

According to couple’s account, the altercation with photographers was prolonged and risky. “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,” the couple’s spokesperson said.

“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers.”

Two people involved with the couple’s security also described the incident as chaotic, with the paparazzi in numerous vehicles, including cars, scooters, mopeds and electrical bikes. The Sussexes had to switch cars during the chase, they say.

Thomas Buda, who runs a private security business contracted to help the couple, said the chase began the moment Harry and Meghan left the Ziegfeld Ballroom and lasted 90 minutes.

Paparazzi wanted to find out where the couple was staying while they were in New York City, he said, and their vehicles ran red lights while pedestrians were in the crosswalks and drove into oncoming traffic on 34th Street in Manhattan, driving the wrong way down one-way streets, Buda said.

Chris Sanchez, a member of the couple’s security team who spoke exclusively to CNN, said the incident was alarming. “I have never seen, experienced anything like this,” he said. “What we were dealing with was very chaotic.”

The Sussexes were scared – but were relieved when they returned to the apartment where they were staying, he said. “The public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal,” Sanchez said.

After what Buda described as an increasingly hazardous game of cat and mouse, security moved the Duke and Duchess to the 19th police precinct on East 67th street.

From that location, a yellow taxi simply brought them around the block, back to the police station.

Buda said the pair finally made their escape when the midnight shift of patrol officers turned out in their police cars to go out on patrol and effectively caused a chokepoint on the block that allowed security teams to get Harry and Meghan into traffic and away.

The driver of that taxi, Sukhcharn Singh, spoke to CNN late Wednesday about the surreal experience he encountered.

“I’ve been driving now since 2018, this was the first time I saw this. Other celebrities never got that much attention from the paparazzis,” he said,

Singh recalled that after the the Duke and Duchess got in his cab – and before they could even tell him where to go – “all of a sudden the paparazzi just stormed the taxi. There’s flashes coming from every direction. They’re up against the car, taking pictures.”

At one point, Singh said, a security guard in the cab with them got out to tell the paparazzi to move.

Singh said that he didn’t personally feel in danger but the Duke and the Duchess appeared “very nervous.”

“The look on their faces, you could tell that they were nervous and scared,” Singh recalled.

Prince Harry and Meghan say they were chased by photographers for two hours after leaving an event in New York.

After a ten minute ride, Singh dropped Harry and Meghan at the 19th precinct in Manhattan. He told CNN that they gave him $50.00 for the ride, though the fare was just $17.50.

Reckless driving

In a statement, the New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed the outline of the Sussexes’ account but described it in less colorful language. The NYPD “assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex” on Tuesday evening and “there were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging,” said Julian Phillips, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for public information.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard,” he said.

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 urged the media not to publish photographs from the incident. “Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all in involved.”