After Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, were involved in a “near catastrophic car chase” involving paparazzi on Tuesday, photo agency Backgrid USA is responding to claims photographers were aggressively pursuing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex following an event in New York City.

“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 company said in a statement to ET responding to the allegations. “We want to clarify that we have 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. It is important to note that these photographers have a professional responsibility to cover newsworthy events and personalities, including public figures such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.”

Backgrid claimed that the “freelance contributors… were covering the couple’s stay in New York City, including the possibility of a dinner after an award ceremony.” The company alleged that the photographers “had no intention of causing any distress or harm, as their only tool was their cameras.”

According to the photo agency, the hired photographers alleged 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,” their response continued. The company also adamantly denied the Duke and Duchess’ spokesperson’s claim that they were being followed by “highly aggressive paparazzi” and “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,” Backgrid said in their statement.

The photo agency ended its statement by saying it will be looking “into the matter”: “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.”

The New York Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Julian Phillips also issued a statement to ET in response to the incident, saying officers “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 arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries or arrested in regard.”

Tuesday night’s incident took place after the Duchess of Sussex was honored by Gloria Steinem at the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. She attended the awards gala with Prince Harry and her mother, where she received the foundation’s Woman of Vision Award, entering and exiting the venue publicly where paparazzi were able to take photos. They also posed for photos on the red carpet.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the couple told ET that they, along with Meghan’s mother, had been pursued by “aggressive paparazzi” for more than two hours after leaving the event.

“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,” their spokesperson said in a statement to ET.

“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers,” the statement continued. “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. 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’s mother, Princess Diana, died after a car crash involving paparazzi in Paris, France, on Aug. 31, 1997. She was 36.

A New York-based photographer, who did not want to be named but was among the paparazzi following Harry and Meghan’s car on Tuesday, tells ET that it is customary to follow cars with celebrities in NYC, but high-speed chases are not common due to the nature of the city streets and dense traffic. Additionally, the photographer notes, many paps opt to use bicycles or Vespas because they move faster than the cars.

The photographer claims that while paparazzi were following Harry and Meghan’s car, “multiple illegal moves” by Harry and Meghan’s driver were unnecessary and not at all customary with what other celebrities typically do in New York.


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