- Written by Chelsea Bailey
- BBC News
A photo agency that took pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during what the couple said was a dangerous car chase, has refused to hand over the pictures to them.
Backgrid told BBC News it had refused a legal request to share the material, which was taken in New York on Tuesday night.
In an impulsive response, the agency’s lawyers said the Americans had long rejected the “royal prerogative.”
The BBC has asked the couple for comment.
Conflicting accounts of what Harry and Meghan’s spokesperson described as a “near-disastrous car chase” that resulted in “multiple close collisions” have emerged since the accident was announced on Wednesday.
The NYPD said “several paparazzi” cut short the couple’s trip from the award ceremony on Tuesday night “in defiance,” but added that “there have been no reports of collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests.”
A taxi driver who drove them briefly suggested their spokesperson’s account was “exaggerated”, while some of the photographers involved denied parts of it.
Backgrid, a California-based entertainment photo agency, said Thursday that it had received a letter from the legal team in Sussex.
The letter, which has not been seen by the BBC, read: “We hereby demand that Backgrid immediately provide us with copies of all photos, videos and/or film taken by independent photographers last night after the couple left their event and more for the next several hours. “.
The agency said it responded in a letter: “In America, as you know, property belongs to its owner: outsiders can’t just lay claim to them, as royalty can do.
“Perhaps you should sit down with your client and advise him that his English rules of royal prerogative in requiring citizens to surrender their property to the Crown have long been rejected by this country.
“We stand by our founding fathers.”
There is no royal prerogative in the United Kingdom, and there has long been tension between the royal family and the British media over privacy.
Backgrid said on Wednesday it was investigating the behavior of four freelance photographers involved in taking pictures of the Sussex, even as the agency questioned the couple’s characterization of the incident.
The paparazzi felt the couple were not in “immortal danger at any point,” according to the agency.
During the chase, the car carrying the Duke and Duchess, her mother, and a security guard twice turned into a nearby police station.
BBC News interviewed a taxi driver, Suchcharn “Sonny” Singh, who was briefly involved in the chase. He said his car was taken from a police station.
They were only driving a block when “his taxi was obstructed by a garbage truck and paparazzi suddenly came and started taking pictures.”
Mr. Singh was then told to take them back to the police station.
A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess said the couple realized they were public figures but that this concern “should not be at the expense of anyone’s safety”.
Prince Harry has spoken out about his anger at the actions of the paparazzi over the years, comparing the paparazzi to a “pack of dogs” that chased after his mother, in a BBC documentary.
Diana, Princess of Wales, has died from injuries sustained in a car crash after the car she was in was chased through the streets of Paris by paparazzi.
“To see another woman in my life, who I love, go through this feeding frenzy — that’s hard,” he said in the recent Netflix documentary, Harry & Meghan.
“Certified alcohol aficionado. Organizer. Explorer. Lifelong writer. Falls down a lot. Proud social mediaholic. Freelance student.”
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