Britain's Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and her mother were involved in a "near catastrophic car chase" involving paparazzi photographers after they attended an awards ceremony in New York, a spokesperson for the prince said on Wednesday.
The incident involved half a dozen cars with blacked out windows, driving dangerously and putting the lives of the couple, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, in danger, according to their spokesperson.
"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 spokesperson said in a statement.
"This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD (New York Police Department) officers."
The couple were shaken by the incident but otherwise unharmed.
The prince has long spoken out about his anger at press intrusion which he blames for the death of his mother Princess Diana, who was killed when her limousine crashed as it sped away from chasing paparazzi in Paris in 1997.
The couple's spokesperson said the chase on Tuesday, after they left the Ziegfeld Ballroom in midtown Manhattan, could also have been fatal and involved paparazzi driving on the sidewalk, running red lights, and driving while taking pictures.
Those involved in the chase were confronted by police officers multiple times, according to the spokesperson.
The New York Police Department said it had assisted the private security team protecting the couple.
"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," an NYPD spokesperson said.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he had received a briefing that two NYPD officers could have been injured in the incident.
"I don't think there's many of us who don't recall how, how his mom died," Adams told reporters. "And it would be horrific to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this and something to have happened to them as well."
He said he would be given an in-depth briefing later, but that he found it hard to believe there would have been a two-hour high speed chase.
"If it's 10 minutes, a 10-minute chase is extremely dangerous in New York City," Adams said.
The Ms. Foundation for Women, the organisers of the awards ceremony where Meghan was honoured for her work, had no immediate comment. Buckingham Palace also had no comment.
'HIGHLY INTRUSIVE PRACTICE'
Pictures that have since appeared on social media show Harry, Meghan and her mother sitting in the back of a New York taxi which their spokesperson said showed "a small glimpse at the defense and decoys required to end the harassment".
The couple, who live in California with their two young children, had been staying at a private residence but decided against returning there as they did not wish to compromise their host's safety, according to their spokesperson.
"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," the spokesperson 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."
Harry has never hidden his dislike for the press, fuelled by the treatment his mother received and by his own experiences, particularly when he was young.
In his memoir "Spare", the couple's Netflix documentary series and TV interviews, he has railed against British tabloid newspapers invading his and his family's privacy, and it was one of the main reasons he and Meghan gave for stepping down from their royal roles in 2020 and moving to the United States.
The prince is currently involved in numerous court cases in London where he has accused newspapers of using unlawful methods to target him and his family. While papers reject nearly all his allegations, one publisher last week apologised for unlawfully seeking information about him in 2004.
He is also seeking to overturn a decision by the British government to take away his specialist police protection when he is in Britain.