The court of public opinion on Harry and Meghan is unmoved. The book, the Netflix series and the numerous TV interviews have cemented people’s views. 

There are those who have sympathy for a “hounded” couple. And those who think they are a pair of hypocrites – craving the quiet life but complaining when they put themselves in the limelight, as they so often do.

Conversations with those close to them hint at how they reflect on this schism in public opinion of them.

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Harry and Meghan seen before ‘car chase’

Speaking exclusively to Sky News, the couple’s press secretary Ashley Hansen said: “I have never experienced their vulnerability as much as I did last night. They were incredibly scared and shaken up.”

Her job is to reflect the views of her “principals”, as she describes the Sussexes. And on the specifics of the incident, she was keen to counter any narrative, prompted by their initial statement, that there had been a two-hour high-speed car chase.

“There were several times where the car stopped, and security got out,” she told me.

“There were instances where the police confronted the paparazzi and had asked them to stop or give them space, to do this safely. Unfortunately, that wish was not respected.”

More on Meghan Markle

On the claims that all this is just a publicity stunt to present the couple as victims as they battle the UK tabloids in court, she claimed numerous people beyond her principals were endangered including pedestrians and two police officers – a claim confirmed by the New York Police Department (NYPD).

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Harry and Meghan’s taxi driver speaks out

There is plenty of footage of the chase taken at points in the pursuit. Some of it is from CCTV cameras; some seemingly captured by the prince himself who was seen, in the paparazzi footage filming on his mobile phone.

The spokesperson said the footage could form part of an investigation which the NYPD has initiated, one which she said the couple had not requested.

The words of one member of the security detail tasked with the couple’s protection paint a vivid picture of the pursuit from their perspective.

Tom Buda, a former detective with the NYPD who also worked at the US State Department, said: “They used e-bikes to help their sedans to keep up. I witnessed at least 15 lights blown by the paparazzi vehicles.”

Mr Buda continued: “As security, we don’t know what the intention of these supposed paparazzi are – and we don’t know who’s who. And they were driving recklessly. Our assumption was they were paparazzi. Trying to make lots of money. But they were driving aggressively and badly. The duke and duchess were a bit shaken up.”

Read more:
NYPD officials suggest Sussex car chase ‘not catastrophic’
Analysis: It’s impossible not to be reminded of Diana
What has Prince Harry previously said about the paparazzi?

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Car chase was ‘reckless’ – NYC mayor

Carolyn Durand is co-author of the bestselling book Finding Freedom, which chronicles the couple’s decision to quit the Royal Family and move to California. She attended the Manhattan awards ceremony from where the pursuit started.

“They are chased all the time. That’s very true,” she told me. “But I think six blacked-out cars, multiple people on bikes, scooters … he does carry with him those memories of what happened to his mother. He wants to protect his wife and his mother-in-law.”

“I understand that people have very strong points of view on Harry and Meghan, especially after the publication of his book.” she said.

“The Duke and Duchess want to create the compromise where they can live a quieter life in California, but still highlight the issues that are important to both of them. And I think that that’s laudable, certainly.

“They’ll have to make a determination about what the balance is: if they really want that life of privacy and how you balance that with people chasing you on the streets of New York or LA or London.”

The events on the streets of Manhattan don’t form part of the case against the tabloid press which Harry is fighting in London, but they neatly, some say conveniently, embolden his cause.

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