Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, arrive at the Women of Vision Awards in New York on May 16, 2023. Photo: Reuters / Twitter/anDrew Reuters / Twitter/anDrew

New details have emerged on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's "near catastrophic" car chase at the hands of paparazzi in New York on May 16 last year, from documents released during Wednesday's Home Court ruling on the duke's security case against the Home Office.

One of the documents was a letter sent to the Metropolitan Police in London from New York Police Department's Chief of Intelligence John B. Hart dated Dec. 6, 2023. He revealed that an investigation into the incident found "reckless" behaviour from the paparazzi involved.

The letter, obtained by the Daily Beast, mentioned "reckless disregard of vehicle and traffic laws and persistently dangerous and unacceptable behavior on the part of the paparazzi during the night in question".

It continued: "The individuals operated vehicles, scooters and bicycles in a manner that forced the security team, which included an NYPD Lead Car, to take evasive actions on several occasions and a circuitous route to avoid being struck by pursuing vehicles or trapped on side blocks. Our conclusion, upon review with the Manhattan District Attorney's office, is that we have sufficient evidence to arrest two individuals for reckless endangerment."

The NYPD has not yet arrested anyone connected to the car chase. But Hart said the incident prompted an immediate upgrade in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's security arrangements on future visits to New York. He discussed "certain changes to the security posture that will be afforded to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex" following a "thorough review" of the incident.

The car chase happened after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, together with her mum Doria Ragland, attended the "Ms. Foundation 2023 Women of Vision Awards" in Manhattan. They were pursued by paparazzi on their way to a friend's house where they were staying.

Their spokesperson at the time said they "were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi. This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers".

The representative added: "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."

Meanwhile, the NYPD said at the time that it "assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex" and confirmed that "there were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging."

Fortunately, they "arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests in regard". At some point during the chase, the trio were forced to change vehicle and hop on a yellow cab to distract the paparazzi.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams reacted to the incident the next day calling the behaviour of the paparazzi "a bit reckless and irresponsible". He said he finds it "hard to believe" that a "high-speed chase" happened but noted: "It's clear that the press, paparazzi, they want to get the right shot, they want to get the right story, but public safety must always be at the forefront."

He also evoked the death of Prince Harry's mother, Princess Diana, at the hands of paparazzi in Paris. He said: "I think there are not many of us who do not recall how his mom died and it would be horrific to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this."

Mayor Adams' claim that it was a "high-speed" car chase only spurred hate comments against the Sussexes given that New York is known for its high-traffic streets. Their representative never mentioned it being "high-speed". Regardless of the possible trauma brought by the incident, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle returned to the city in October to celebrate World Mental Health Day.