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Princess Diana’s bodyguard on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s automotive chase: ‘Solely getting part of the story’

Princess Diana’s former bodyguard Lee Sansum shared his ideas on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s alleged “close to catastrophic” automotive chase in New York Metropolis.

The ex-Royal Army Police officer supplied safety for the late Princess of Wales and her sons Prince William and Prince Harry in the course of the summer time of 1997, previous to Diana’s deadly collision that August.

In an interview with Fox Information Digital, Sansum weighed in on the Might 16 incident, throughout which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex claimed paparazzi relentlessly pursued them and Meghan’s mom Doria Ragland for over two hours by way of the streets of Manhattan.

“I feel actually from the knowledge that we’re studying — that’s put out by the press and whoever — I feel we’re solely getting part of the story,” he stated.

Sansum continued, “Whether or not it is fully the proper story, it is a model of the story. However from my expertise previously, the paparazzi, the individuals taking the images… they’re so intrusive. And ultimately it simply breaks you down.


“Initially, you may simply can get on with it and you may form of put up with it. But it surely’s very oppressive. And ultimately, even the good of us, you are simply, ‘Sufficient, man.’”

The safety skilled famous that paparazzi pursuits to get the “cash shot” can’t solely jeopardize the protection of the photographer’s topics, but in addition that of bystanders.

“I discover it completely loopy that these persons are allowed to do that and put the general public in danger, chasing individuals,” Sansum stated. “We are saying ‘chasing,’ we assume that they are going actually quick. They do not must be going quick, however they’re chopping individuals off… They’re advancing by way of visitors in an aggressive method to catch a automobile, to take {a photograph} that’s going to make them cash. And it is placing individuals in danger.”

Sansum went on to quote Diana’s accident as a “basic instance” of a paparazzi chase that led to tragedy. The princess, her accomplice Dodi Fayed and their chauffeur Henri Paul have been killed on Aug. 31, 1997, when their automobile crashed within the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris as they have been fleeing from photographers. 

The automotive’s fourth passenger, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, was severely injured however survived the accident. On the time, Rees-Jones and Sansum have been employed by Fayed’s father Mohamed Al-Fayed as a part of their household’s safety crew. 


In his 2022 memoir “Defending Diana: A Bodyguard’s Story,” Sansum recalled how he grew to become a part of the safety element tasked with guarding Diana and her sons throughout their trip in Saint-Tropez, France. The royals stayed with Fayed, an Egyptian movie producer, on Mohamed’s luxurious yacht the Jonikal in July 1997.

Sansum remembered that he befriended Diana and have become one in all her confidantes. He advised Fox Information Digital that the then-36-year-old shared her fears concerning the paparazzi’s aggressive conduct.

He stated, “That is what Princess Diana advised me. She was making an attempt to get the federal government within the U.Ok. to cross a invoice and he or she failed. To cease them pursuing individuals. It is relentless and it simply grinds individuals down. And I simply sympathize with anyone that has these individuals chasing them.”

In his memoir, Sansum wrote that paparazzi swarmed the Jonikal day by day in an effort to snap images of Diana and Fayed. Nevertheless, he defined that William and Harry, who have been 15 and 12 on the time, appeared principally unaffected by the media consideration as a consequence of their younger ages. 

“At the moment, they have been younger boys,” Sansum stated. “When youngsters are so younger, they do not form of grasp what is going on on.”

He continued, “I feel they have been so form of centered on having fun with the hospitality of the Al-Fayed household and all of the toys that that they had and the boats, the jet skis and all the remainder of it. I feel they have been extra centered on that.”

“We have been making an attempt to circumnavigate the paparazzi to get them some respite and a few peace, so they may benefit from the vacation,” Sansum added. “They have been form of shielded from what was happening. So I feel at that age, they have been conscious of it, nevertheless it did not form of get to them as it could an grownup. However I do know they disliked the paparazzi.”

Sansum stated that he took challenge with the time period “paparazzi,” which he famous was extra of a European descriptor on the time.

“All of us name them the ‘paparazzi’ now,” he stated. “However initially it was a European form of factor. And the paparazzi now… that is how I personally really feel. It is form of dehumanizing these individuals. And we give them a reputation and all people goes, ‘Oh, it’s the paparazzi.'”


Sansum continued, “However, for instance, within the USA or wherever, these persons are — they’re neighbors. They stay in our communities. They’re incomes cash. You understand, they’re taking images of individuals. They don’t seem to be ‘the paparazzi.’ They’re our individuals, they stay in our communities. And I feel, , we form of name them ‘the paparazzi’ and we form of distance ourselves from them. However they stay subsequent door to the individuals. They’re most likely listening to this. They’re regular individuals.”

In a 2022 interview with The Solar, Sansum revealed that he might have been on responsibility on the evening of the deadly automotive crash. He recalled that the safety crew drew straws to find out who would accompany Rees-Jones within the automobile. Sansum went on to inform the outlet that Diana and Fayed won’t have died within the accident if he had been within the automotive with them as he all the time insisted that they put on seatbelts.

Sansum elaborated on his remarks throughout his interview with Fox Information Digital. “I used to be merely making an attempt to say that if I used to be on responsibility that evening, it could have modified the entire dynamics of the entire thing,” he defined.

“That is the one factor I meant by that,” Sansum added. “But in addition I used to be extraordinarily strict on all my purchasers placing their seatbelts on. All the time. I have been all around the world. I have been in conflict zones. I have been in Libya in the course of the second conflict, working with the Individuals up in Somalia once we have been getting shot at and all types. And each single time earlier than we set off, I inform my individuals to place their seatbelts on. I’ve misplaced a number of mates in highway visitors accidents all around the world. And, , I can say this, that with a hand on my coronary heart, they’d have been sporting their seatbelts.”

Sansum mirrored on how he would have dealt with final week’s incident involving Harry and Meghan if he had been a part of their safety crew. 

Sansum defined the significance of getting a plan in place forward of time, in addition to anticipating that high-profile purchasers comparable to Harry and Meghan would seemingly be adopted by paparazzi after attending an occasion.

“However typically when you could have the individuals that you are looking after, that you just’re bodyguarding, who’re getting pressured they usually actually misplaced the plot… Typically it could have an effect on the safety crew,” he stated. “These anxious emotions, these emotions of security and ‘I simply need to be by myself with my spouse,’ it could spill over into nervousness, into anger, and typically it could mild the safety crew up.”

Sansum continued, “Once I converse to my groups that I’ve had previously and we have been out in all types of locations even together with conflict zones, earlier than we go on a mission, you’d say, ‘Look, it is extremely seemingly that that is going to occur.’ And also you undergo the situations. You say, ‘Proper, this occurs.’ We have to maintain our cool. We have to maintain our heads. We have to do not forget that the mission is to get these individuals from A to B safely.

“And if the paparazzi on this occasion are following and taking footage, nicely, we knew it was potential that was going to occur. We have simply received to stay to our mission. Sort of neglect what is going on on behind the automotive, preserve a cool head and simply get in there safely. And it is tough while you’ve received individuals in your automobile who may behave in a method that impacts the motive force. It impacts the crew. And it could get very private for someone working in shut safety, govt power safety. That is the primary rule. You can not take it personally. You have simply received to stay to your mission, persist with your drills and do what you should do.”

Sansum advised Fox Information Digital he additionally believes communication with the purchasers is vital and he all the time makes them conscious of the plan. “If it was me, I might be saying to Harry and Meghan, ‘That is the place we’re going. That is what is going on to occur. That is more likely to occur. We’re more likely to get paparazzi following us. And that is the plan. We’ll drive at a traditional velocity by way of the town. They are going to be making an attempt to get near us. They are going to be taking images. It will occur. Are you okay with that?,'” he defined.

“And also you all the time get their permission to be calm and picked up about this,” he added. “And as soon as they perceive, when it does begin to occur, you may say, ‘Excuse me. Do you keep in mind the safety security transient earlier than we began? We’ll persist with the plan. Is that okay? Fairly quickly they are going to get bored and they are going to go away us alone.’ And simply reassure them.”

Following the incident, a spokesperson for Prince Harry and Markle advised Fox Information Digital: “Final evening, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Ms. Ragland have been concerned in a close to catastrophic automotive chase by the hands of a hoop of extremely aggressive paparazzi.

“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in a number of close to collisions involving different drivers on the highway, pedestrians and two NYPD officers. Whereas being a public determine comes with a stage of curiosity from the general public, it ought to by no means come at the price of anybody’s security.”


In line with royal watcher Omid Scobie, the paparazzi have been confronted by police a number of instances as they chased the royal couple, who have been on their technique to a non-public residence the place they have been staying. Scobie alleged on Twitter that the photographers had pushed on a sidewalk, run by way of crimson lights, reversed down a one-way road, photographed the couple whereas driving and illegally blocked a shifting automobile.

Prince Harry, Meghan and her mom are “understandably shaken however grateful everybody’s protected,” a supply advised Scobie.

New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams criticized the “reckless and irresponsible” incident throughout a press convention, but in addition stated he discovered it “laborious to consider” a “two-hour, high-speed chase” occurred within the densely populated metropolis wrought with visitors, pedestrians and ongoing development initiatives.

And Julian Phillips, NYPD deputy commissioner of public data, stated, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their vacation spot and there have been no reported collisions, summonses, accidents, or arrests in regard.”

Earlier this week, Prince Harry misplaced a authorized problem looking for the flexibility to make personal funds to police for cover whereas within the U.Ok. Attorneys for the federal government opposed permitting rich individuals to “purchase” their very own safety from the police, based on the BBC.

In September 2021, Prince Harry initially utilized for a judicial assessment of a House Workplace determination that saved him from personally paying for police safety whereas he and his household have been within the U.Ok. Harry and Meghan’s tax-payer funded police safety was revoked once they stepped down from their roles as senior royals in 2020.

Sansum advised Fox Information Digital that he was “not shocked” that Harry’s authorized problem was rejected.


“I might love to talk to Harry to search out out why he wished the police safety. And I might prefer to know and perceive about that,” he stated.

Sansum continued, “If you consider Harry, he is only a regular human being similar to you and I. He is clearly coming again to U.Ok. He is received considerations about his private safety. And he most likely is aware of having the police taking care of him, he’ll get the perfect safety potential due to the highest cowl that they’ve. So he is clearly received points about sure issues.

“I wasn’t shocked in any respect that it was refused. In no way. However there are corporations and there are individuals right here within the U.Ok. that might give him a particularly excessive stage of safety. And he most likely is aware of that as nicely. However he clearly has some severe considerations.”

Fox Information Digital’s Lauryn Overhultz and Stephanie Giang-Paunon contributed to this report.

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