Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, were not injured during what they described as a “near-catastrophic car chase” through New York, the city's police department said on Wednesday.
Video published on entertainment website TMZ show the pair sitting in the back of a yellow cab along with Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, after leaving the event.
“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,” a representative for the couple said.
The NYPD assisted the couple's private security team after the event, said Julian Phillips, the department's deputy commissioner for public information.
“There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging,” he said in a statement.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests in regard.”
The Associated Press reported that a law enforcement official said police had helped the couple at one point to move from their SUV to a taxi.
The cab driver, Sukhcharn Singh, spoke with The Washington Post and did not describe the incident as a chase.
“I never felt like I was in danger. It wasn’t like a car chase in a movie," he said of his experience driving the couple after picking them up outside a police precinct.
"They were quiet and seemed scared but it’s New York — it’s safe.”
News reports say the couple wanted to evade the paparazzi to protect the safety and privacy of the home they were staying at in Manhattan.
New York Mayor Eric Adams described the incident as “a bit reckless and irresponsible”.
“A lot of people are using our streets – any type of high-speed chase that involves something of that nature is inappropriate,” Mr Adams said.
The mayor said he had been briefed that two officers could have been injured in the incident.
Prince Harry has long blamed the paparazzi for the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed along with Dodi Al Fayed when the limousine they were in crashed as it was pursued by photographers in Paris.
“I don't think there's many of us who don't recall how, how [Prince Harry's] mum died, and it would be horrific to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this,” Mr Adams noted.
In an interview with 60 Minutes earlier this year, the prince also accused the paparazzi of standing by after the crash.
Prince Harry and Meghan's office said the couple were chased by more than a half dozen vehicles, AP reported.
The couple's representative said the high level of interest generated by public figures such as Prince Harry and Meghan should not come at the cost of anyone's safety. The representative added that dissemination of photographs taken by paparazzi “encourages a highly intrusive practice”.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down from royal duties in 2020 and moved to the US partly because of what they described as intense media harassment.
The prince has also been in court attempting to bring a legal challenge against the Home Office over his security arrangements when in the UK.
He is seeking a judicial review over a decision that he should not be allowed to pay privately for his protective security. The Home Office said it was “not appropriate” for wealthy people to “buy” protective security, which might include armed officers, when it had decided that “the public interest does not warrant” someone receiving such protection on a publicly funded basis.
The couple were making their first public appearance together since the coronation of King Charles III earlier this month.
Ms Ragland accompanied Harry and Meghan at the Ms Foundation for Women's 50th anniversary gala event in New York on Tuesday.
The ceremony honoured “game-changing” grantee partners and visionary leaders committed to the organisation's mission of “advancing collective power and creating safe, just and equitable futures for women, girls and gender-expansive people”.