Meghan Markle’s absence from the Gracie Awards on May 23 was a wise move, according to Princess Diana’s former bodyguard.
Markle, who was named a digital media national winner for the 49th annual awards, did not make an appearance at the ceremony in Los Angeles. The Gracie Awards came just days after the Duchess of Sussex and her husband Prince Harry claimed they had been followed by paparazzi in a “relentless pursuit” after leaving an event in New York City.
Lee Sansum, who worked to protect Princess Diana in the summer of 1997 shortly before her death, told Fox News Digital that he supports Markle’s decision to skip the event.
“The paparazzi would have been insane,” according to Sansum.
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Sansum was assigned to protect Princess Diana while she was dating Egyptian film producer Dodi Fayed. He explained that sometimes a chase could be provoked.
“People will provoke a chase to get the picture,” he said. “And it might not be the cameraman, or the camera people, should I say. But hey, let’s pay a couple cars here to just . . . be decoys and just to really give them something just to get reaction.”
“They just want to snap one shot, one shot, that’s got, ‘Oh Meghan’s lost the plot.’ So . . . they create this environment.”
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The former bodyguard further explained how paparazzi will sometime create situations to get their ‘money shot.’
“I’ve been in this situation where . . . people are going to make money out of it, and they’re to try to get the car to do something crazy or just even hit something, you know, hit another car. Can you imagine that?”
“Meghan’s driver running away from the paparazzi hit this poor individual?”
“If I was giving her security advice at this moment in time, I would have said, ‘Meghan, leave it. Let’s just let this simmer down. Just leave it.'”
The royal couple, along with her mother, were leaving the Women of Vision Awards on May 16, where Markle was honored for her charitable work by the Ms. Foundation, when they were pursued by paparazzi.
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A spokesperson for Prince Harry and Markle told Fox News Digital: “Last night, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Ms. Ragland were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi.”
“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.”
According to royal watcher Omid Scobie, the paparazzi were confronted by police multiple times as they chased the royal couple, who were on their way to a private residence where they were staying. Scobie alleged on Twitter that the photographers had driven on a sidewalk, run through red lights, reversed down a one-way street, photographed the couple while driving and illegally blocked a moving vehicle.
Prince Harry, Markle and her mother are “understandably shaken but thankful everyone’s safe,” a source told Scobie.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams criticized the “reckless and irresponsible” incident during a press conference, but also said he found it “hard to believe” a “two-hour, high-speed chase” happened in the densely populated city wrought with traffic, pedestrians and ongoing construction projects.
And Julian Phillips, NYPD deputy commissioner of public information said, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard.”