Photo agency rejects Prince Harry and Meghan’s ‘royal prerogative’ demand for photos

Doria Ragland, left, son-in-law Prince Harry and daughter Meghan Markle stand together, posing for photo, smiling.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and her mother, Doria Ragland, at the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards on Tuesday in New York.
(Kevin Mazur / Getty Images)

The photo agency accused of tailing Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, during what the couple called a “near catastrophic” car chase in New York has rejected the royals’ requests for copies of their photos.

Freelance photographers working for the agency Backgrid USA Inc. had followed Harry and Meghan’s security escort on Tuesday by car and bike, snapping photos and recording video as the royals left an awards ceremony by taxi.

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex claimed the photographers’ alleged pursuit had resulted in multiple near-collisions involving other vehicles, pedestrians and two New York Police Department officers, as well as multiple traffic violations, such as driving on the sidewalk, running red lights and reversing down a one-way street.


One photographer at the scene of Harry and Meghan’s alleged ‘near catastrophic’ car chase has dismissed the couple’s claims as ‘crazy hyperbole.’

May 18, 2023

Backgrid had dismissed those claims and defended its photographers. The freelancers said they felt “the couple was not in immediate danger at any point.”

The photo agency said that legal representatives for the Sussexes on Thursday had sent a letter demanding copies of the photos and video taken on Tuesday, according to BBC News.

“We hereby demand that Backgrid immediately provide us with copies of all photos, videos, and/or films taken last night by the freelance photographers after the couple left their event and over the next several hours,” the letter read.

In its snarky rejection of the request, Backgrid had evoked the American Revolutionary War.

Prince Harry and Meghan say they were in a ‘near catastrophic car chase’ Tuesday while being followed by ‘highly aggressive paparazzi’ in New York.

May 17, 2023

“In America, as I’m sure you know, property belongs to the owner of it: Third parties cannot just demand it be given to them, as perhaps Kings can do,” the agency wrote, according to BBC News.

“Perhaps you should sit down with your client and advise them that his English rules of royal prerogative to demand that the citizenry hand over their property to the Crown were rejected by this country long ago,” the agency continued. “We stand by our founding fathers.”


A spokesperson for the Sussexes and Backgrid did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Times.

The statement released by Harry and Meghan’s spokesperson on Wednesday detailing the alleged pursuit had evoked the the death of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, who died in 1997 in a Paris car accident after being pursued by paparazzi. Harry has blamed an overly aggressive press for Diana’s untimely death and has been vocal about defending Meghan and their two children from suffering the same fate.

Despite the drama caused by his memoir ‘Spare’ earlier this year, it was Harry’s yawning nephew who delivered Windsor watchers a star turn on Saturday.

May 6, 2023

Harry, Meghan and her mother, Doria Ragland, were tailed by photographers after leaving the Women of Vision Awards at the Ziegfeld Ballroom, where the former “Suits” actor was among the honorees. Backgrid claimed that some of the photos snapped of the royals show them smiling from inside their taxi.

An NYPD spokesperson confirmed to The Times on Wednesday that the officers “assisted the private security team protecting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.”

“There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging,” Julian Phillips, the NYPD’s head spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard.”

Times staff writers Nardine Saad and Christi Carras contributed to this report.