An American photo agency has rejected Harry and Meghan’s request for images from this week’s “near catastrophic” automobile chase they claimed to have had with paparazzi in New York.
Backgrid USA reportedly stated that “this country long ago rejected the English rules of royal prerogative to demand that the citizenry hand over their property to the Crown.”
The organisation has acknowledged receiving images and video from four independent photographers who were on May 16’s Tuesday evening while three of them were in automobiles and one was on a bicycle.
But it has rejected claims by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of a ‘near catastrophic’ car chase through Manhattan’s Upper East Side after the couple appeared at an awards ceremony.
US gossip website TMZ on Thursday published details of the legal tit-for-tat, including part of a letter sent to Backgrid by the Sussexes’ lawyers.
It reportedly read: ‘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.’
They are also pushing the New York Police Department to investigate, according to reports. The Mail has sought comment from the Sussexes’ legal team in the UK.
Backgrid firmly rejected the request to hand over footage. TMZ carried an excerpt from the agency’s legal response, which said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Backgrid added: ‘We stand by our founding fathers.’
The agency said it had launched its own investigation as it did not ‘condone any form of harassment or illegal activity’. But it has also said the photographers on Tuesday night ‘had no intention of causing any distress or harm, as their only tool was their cameras’.
Security officers working for the couple have said they feared for the safety of members of the public who were caught up in what they maintain was a frightening incident.
In a statement on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Sussexes said: ‘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.’
The incident happened after the couple attended the Women of Vision awards ceremony.