The 19th Precinct house on East 67th appeared to be thrust into a central role in the controversial paparazzi encounter involving Prince Harry and Megan Markle last week.
But it appears the Duke and Duchess of Sussex never actually entered the precinct house during what they said was a controversial “near catastrophic” two hour chase by paparazzi after they attended the Ms Foundation dinner where Meghan Markle was being given an award for advocacy work empowering women and girls.
On May 17, they released a statement about a purported harrowing drive, but in subsequent days parts of the story seemed to be getting questioned including the duration of the “chase” and exactly how dangerous it really was.
“Last night, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and [Megan’s Markle’s mother]Ms. [Doria] Ragland were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi,” the royal couple said in a statement on May 17th, which of course had everyone recalling the death of Princess Diana in Paris in 1997. “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.”
A police spokesperson the next day seemed to downplay the incident. “On Wednesday 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.”
Mayor Eric Adams also seemed to cast some cold water on the “two hour chase” but allowed any duration of a high speed chase could be worrisome.
“I would find it hard to believe there was a two-hour high-speed chase,” Adams said at a press conference when the topic came up the next day, although he did add that even a 10 minute chase wouldbe “extremely dangerous in New York City.”
A cab driver, Sukcham Singh, said cops at the 19th Precinct had flagged him down and asked him to take the royal couple home, according to reports. But at one point, he said they were stuck behind a garbage truck allowing paparazzi to catch up to them and begin taking pricuters from all sides.
After about ten minutes, he said the royal couple asked to be taken back to the 19th Pct. where they got back into the original SUV.
Then over the weekend, the NY Post’s Page Six column said that the reason for the evasive maneuvers--and the drop off at the Precinct house--was they were trying to avoid letting photographers know the address of the private home where they were staying. According to Page Six, the royal couple had initially tried to get a discounted room at the Carlyle which had been a favorite of the late Princess Diana when she stayed in New York.
“If they had just paid up and got a hotel in the first place, this supposed ‘dangerous’ paparazzi chase around town would never have happened,” according to the Page Six source. “They would have been driven back to the Carlyle, been photographed going inside and that would have been the end of it.”
According to the photo agency, Backgrid USA which admitted to hiring photographers to tail the royal couple from the Ziegfeld Theater, it may have been the Prince’s security team that was driving recklessly. “One of the four SUVs from Prince Harry’s security escort was driving in a manner that could be perceived as reckless,” the photo agency said in a statement. “The vehicle was seen blocking off streets, and in one video, it is shown being pulled over by the police.” The company also claimed “there were no near-collisions or near-crashes during this incident.”
Requests to the 19th Pct for further comment were not returned by the time of publication.