Video Producer/Editor: Shohini Bose
An Indian-origin New York City taxi driver Sukhcharn Singh drove Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and her mother Doria Ragland, for about 10 minutes following a chaotic paparazzi chase in New York.
On Wednesday, Prince Harry’s spokesperson released a statement saying that the three were involved in a “near catastrophic” chase by the paparazzi after attending an awards ceremony in New York.
The chase involved "a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi" in half a dozen cars with blacked-out windows, driving rashly and putting the lives of the couple and Doria Ragland in danger, according to the spokesperson.
The couple were in the city to attend the Women of Vision Awards on Tuesday, 16 May where Markle was honoured for "her global advocacy to empower and advocate on behalf of women and girls" by Gloria Steinem, the Ms. Foundation co-founder.
What Exactly Happened?
In the released statement, the couple’s spokesperson explained, “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,” he added.
Pictures posted on social media show Harry, Meghan and Doria sitting in the back of a New York taxi which their spokesperson said showed “a small glimpse at the defence and decoys required to end the harassment".
“Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all involved,” read the statement.
In a police statement, Julian Phillips, NYPD deputy commissioner, said: “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.”
According to police, the paparazzi committed several traffic violations, including driving on the sidewalk, running red lights, reversing down a one-way street, driving while on the phone, driving while photographing and illegally blocking a moving vehicle.
What Did Taxi Driver Sukhcharan Singh say?
But according to Sukhcharan Singh, the two were clearly nervous during the short journey in his car.
The cab driver told AP that he was driving his cab on 67th Street, near an NYPD precinct a few blocks south of Central Park. Here, a security guard waved for his cab and so he pulled to the side of the curb where Harry, Meghan and her mother got in.
In an interview with the BBC, Singh said:
“I was on 67th Street and then the security guard hailed me. Next thing you know, Prince Harry and his wife were hopping into my cab. We got blocked by a garbage truck, and all of a sudden, paparazzi came and started taking pictures.”
However, for the small duration they were in his car, the driver did not believe there was a threat of danger.
"I don't think that's true, I think that's all exaggerated and stuff like that. Don't read too much into that," he said.
He later added that the aggressive press chase “must have happened before” they got in his taxi.
Singh also maintained that the paparazzi were not being aggressive during his drive. “They were behind us. I mean, they stayed on top of us, that was pretty much it, it was nothing more. They kept their distance,” he said.
“New York City's the safest place to be. There's police stations, cops on every corner, there's no reason to be afraid in New York,” Singh added.