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Spokesperson: Harry & Meghan In "Near Catastrophic Chase" With Paparazzi; NC GOP Lawmakers Override Gov's Veto, Ban Abortions After 12 Years; FL Officials Investigating Teacher Over Disney Movie Could Interview Students Today. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 17, 2023 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL HOST: Extensively about the impact of her death on him in his book "The Spare," even talking about how he didn't believe it for a long time, even going to the extent of asking for the police report when, I think he was 20 years old, in order actually have tangible proof that this actually happened.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think -- I think he's shocked. At the age of 12, he was on holiday with his father at Balmoral when they got the news of his mother's passing. Imagine for one moment the shock. We can all remember those of us who are old enough to remember where we were when we heard the news of Princess Diana's passing.

I think going back to what Sally was just saying a moment ago and Max, there is a particular fragility -- vulnerability in members of the royal family who find themselves suddenly outside of the system and abroad. And I think that was certainly the case with Princess Diana. It is now the case with Prince Harry. And the parallels are absolutely startling.

Just to take your -- you back to those fateful hours of the 31st of August 1997. She had come back from a holiday. Princess Diana at the time was with Dodi al-Fayed. She was rebuilding her life. They'd been on a -- on a yacht of the French and Italian Riviera, as the idea was that she was getting her life back, but being hounded by the press that had this insatiable appetite for any of the details of her new life, for her image, of course, first and foremost.

They had come back to Paris for a stop overnight. The Ritz Hotel which is where they were staying which belonged to Dodi Al-Fayed's father, Mohamed, at the time had gone to extraordinary lengths to get them in a car. A decoy had been sent and another car had been brought, there was going to shepherd them to the -- to the apartment where they would stay just off the Champs-Elysees, not far from where I'm staying now.

In the end, nonetheless, the paparazzi tracked the car down. And of course, in the chaos that ensued in the Point Loma, that terrible accident happened. And, of course, she was pronounced dead by the time she reached the hospital. It didn't take very long.

The inquests have found since then that it was a combination of the prescription drugs and the alcohol, they're in the system of Henri Paul, the man who'd been driving the car, but also the reckless driving of the paparazzi that caused the crash. But clearly, there's no question. This was a woman who was so hounded.

We all remember also the words of her brother at her funeral, Earl Spencer, who talked about the huntress now being hunted. That 20 -- a couple of decades later, we should find ourselves again with absolutely known as lessons learned. If it isn't, then members of the royal family that find themselves outside of the protection of the royal family are particularly vulnerable.

BOLDUAN: It's a -- it's a -- it's a great point. It's kind of terrifying parallels that we're talking about here. One thing we want to continue to say, even if we show images from 1997 with the car, I want to be careful everyone sees that, images from 97 what happened to Princess Diana, what happened in New York was what they are -- they are describing as a near catastrophic car chase. No actual accident, though, even NYPD, according to John Miller talked about how dangerous the situation really was unfolding on New York City streets.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NEWS CENTRAL HOST: Yes, the NYPD calling it annoying and inappropriate and really dangerous. And they could be looking for some of the people although a lot of things were covered up. They didn't have license plates.


SIDNER: And so, we'll see what happens going forward.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CNEWS CENTRAL HOST: All right, we're going to have much more on this straight ahead. Stay with us. Our secret -- special breaking news coverage of what took place on the city streets of New York last night continues right after this.



BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to CNN NEWS CENTRAL. We've been covering breaking news over the last hour or so. We got word that Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were involved in some kind of a car chase last night here in New York City, what their spokesperson calls a near catastrophic car chase that took place at night beginning at the Ziegfeld Theatre on 54th Street where Meghan was winning an award and it lasted some two hours the spokesperson says. Let's get the latest details on what happened. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is in London to walk us through the timeline here. Salma.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. So, just let's take it back to the beginning of what happened yesterday. We understand the couple alongside Meghan's mother were attending the Women of Vision awards in New York. She was there -- Meghan Markle was there to receive an award. I know we have those images of her, of course, at the event wearing that gold dress. Important to remember the wider context here, of course, John. This is just about 10 days after the coronation of King Charles. So, this was really the first huge public opportunity for the couple since that time.

She was at that award ceremony, walked out, took those pictures, took those images, and then was leaving escorted by the NYPD protective team, according to a statement from the couple. And that's when this car chase ensued. As you mentioned almost two hours. Just imagine how terrifying that is, for almost two hours, they feared the potential of a catastrophic crash. They feared the potential of harm.

We understand that according to law enforcement sources, the paparazzi were following them in cars, motorcycles and scooters that these cars, motorcycles, and scooters were taking to the sidewalks engaging in dangerous maneuvers essentially to try to continue to chase them.


At some point, during this two-hour chase, the swarm -- the protective swarm went to the 19th precinct, blocked off the roads, and then prepare to find a way to extract them from this hazardous -- this hazardous situation. They were in New York staying with a friend so we don't know where they went after this chase.

Important to note, of course here that the conclusion to this is that the couple are safe and well. But of course, serious fears and concerns, a serious parallel here to what happened to Prince Harry's mother, Princess Diana, of course in 1997. And this real fear, you have to remember that a driving force for them leaving the UK making that extraordinary decision to leave their home in London, leave the royal family, moved to the United States, and start a new life, a huge factor that drove that was the need for safety, was the need for security.

So, you're just reading between the lines here. You get the sense that this couple feels, there is no safe place for them. There is no place that they can escape that they can have safety that they can have this reasonable expectation to be public figures, yes, but to still be able to know that they won't be subject to harm, John.

SIDNER: We have not yet officially heard from the police in this case. We don't know how they saw things go down. We have just been hearing sort of one side of this, which is from the spokesperson for Meghan and Harry. We are waiting to hear if the police are going to ask them -- we're certainly asking them.

I want to go to Kate now. Kate, can you give us some sense? I know that Harry has been talking about this for a very, very long time. And the last one that really got people's attention was in his book and in the interview he did alongside his wife, the Duchess, with Oprah.

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, how he talked about the terrible situation at his mother's awful death. The last thing she saw was a paparazzi flashbulb, he said in 1997. He wrote about this in his book. He told Anderson Cooper that he always hoped that she might come back for quite a few years.

And he also said in the interview with Oprah that his first memory -- his earliest memory is most significant memory of his mother was her crying while she drove the car because he and William were strapped in as children in the backseat and she couldn't drive forward because there are paparazzi everywhere. And she was so upset that she couldn't drive the car. So, it's not only a memory of his -- the death of his mother, but also his own personal memories, one of being chased as a small child, photos of him as a small child.

And this is you know incredibly wounding, incredibly triggering. He talked -- he said to Oprah, I -- if I stayed in the royal family, I felt that history would repeat itself. And we know what history he was talking about here. He was talking that he thought his wife and his children would be in danger.

Now very significantly, the children were not in the car. They were at home in Montecito. But how terrifying it would have been for how he, particularly that Archie and Lili who -- you know, I -- Archie is about -- I mean Archie is old enough, I think to remember this that he would have been in the car as well. And simply this is a situation that many celebrities go through.

But Harry and Meghan are in particular for the British paparazzi top money. They are huge money. And Meghan didn't come to the coronation. It was Archie's birthday. But I do think that had she come to the coronation, we would have seen something similar.

Harry is -- you know how Harry, he's a -- he's someone that the paparazzi hunt, but Meghan is hunted even more. So, had she been at the coronation she'd been hunted like this. And it's terrible that you can't even go and get an award without being chased around New York.

And certainly, I think Harry is suing newspapers here in the UK for invasion of privacy. He's suing over the security that he feels very strongly he needs and the security he needs. He's suing over that.

And I think that he is going to try and use any measure of the law he can to come down upon these people. I know they're in blacktop cars. I know it's hard to see who it was. I think that Harry is not afraid of legal action and he's going to do what he can because this is going to be a watershed moment for Harry -- a watershed moment.

Yes, they've had paparazzi intrusion drones chasing but this I think we all agree is the worst they have suffered. And this is a watershed moment. Harry, I think will go into very intense action after this. He is not going to take this lying down.

SIDNER: Kate, thank you so much for that.

BERMAN: Look, again, I will say all of the information we're getting primarily is from the side of Harry and Meghan's spokesperson.

SIDNER: Right.

BERMAN: We have not heard directly from police. SIDNER: Yes, right.

BERMAN: Our John Miller, who's got incredible sources within the department did say that this was a serious incident that took place over a long period of time last night. And there were concerns there, but we still are awaiting official word from the New York City Police.


BOLDUAN: Yes. And some other comments as well. All right, so still, we're going to continue to follow this and bring you more details as we get it. But also, still ahead for us on CNN NEWS CENTRAL, Republicans in North Carolina, they voted to override a governor's veto on a 12-week abortion ban. And that is the -- not the only very significant move today in the fight over abortion access in America. Updates coming up.



SIDNER: Right now, abortion battles are playing out across America. On the federal level, the fate of a key abortion pill is now once again in court. Oral arguments happening today before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On the state level, the focus is on Carolina right now, where two separate efforts in both North and South Carolina have hit a critical juncture.

And South Carolina Republican lawmakers are working toward a near- total ban on abortion. They're back in session right now to continue what is a marathon debate. And in North Carolina, nearly all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy are banned after the Republican supermajority and the state legislator voted to override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper's veto of their bill. CNN's Dianne Gallagher has been following all of this for us from Raleigh.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sara, there's not much that Democratic Governor Roy Cooper can do at this point, especially not legislatively. When the two super majorities of Republicans in the House and the Senate voted last night to override his veto, that bill became law. Now, it does not go into effect until July first. But when it goes into effect, it will reduce the cutoff date in North Carolina to obtain an abortion from 20 weeks to 12 weeks, banning most abortions after that first trimester although it does include some exceptions.

But Democrats and medical associations as well as abortion advocates have talked about the other changes that are in this law, including the impact it's going to have on medication abortion. It will require multiple in-person appointments to get that medication. It also will add new regulations reporting and licensing requirements, which advocates say is going to make it more difficult for people to obtain abortions even before that 12-week cut-off period.

Now, look. Democrats say that they feel that they are going to be able to use this to energize their base. When I spoke with Republicans last night during this vote, they said that they thought that this was a "mainstream bill," especially talking about that 12-week cut-off point. And they called it a compromise.

But it is only a compromise within the Republican caucus. Democrats are very quick to point out they had nothing to do with this. And when Republicans call it mainstream, Sara, Democrats point out that that is not what polling suggests the average North Carolinian believes. They say this is something they're going to hit hard on, on the 2024 campaign trail. Governor Cooper is saying that this is something we're going to hear a lot about between now and November 2024.

SIDNER: That was our Dianne Gallagher for us there in Raleigh, North Carolina. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Fifth graders in Florida, they could be interviewed as soon as today as part of the investigation into their teacher showing them a Disney movie. The new development here, that's coming up.


BOLDUAN: First, a teacher was put under investigation for showing her class a Disney movie. Now, the fifth-graders in that class could be interviewed by state officials as soon as today. That's according to the Miami Herald. This all has to do with a parent's complaint over the teacher showing the animated Disney movie Strange World in class, a PG animated film that features a gay character.

CNN's Ryan Young, he's following this and he joins us now. Ryan, what are you learning and hearing about the possibility that the students could now be interviewed as part of this case?


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Kate, a lot of questions that we need to answer so far because do the parents have to sign their kids up for this interview process, do the investigators come into class, and what kind of questions will they ask them? Of course, the movie was Strange World. And this has really gotten a lot of attention in terms of the themes that were in this movie. The teacher was quite surprised this even rise to -- went to the level that someone who even talked about.

But one of the students in that class, their parent was a part of the school board. So, they've raised the idea of the character being in this movie as an issue. And this movie is kind of centered around environmental issues. And the teacher was hoping to kind of show that this lesson plan went along with everything else they were talking about in terms of trying to save the world.

So, when you put all this together, now you have this investigation, you have students asking the teacher why does she get in trouble, and this all goes back to the laws that have been signed in Florida, where people are really paying attention to the themes. Not only in movies, but what she was saying before is the fact that this was a PG-rated movie, that it wasn't on a list of movies that couldn't be shown, and now all this is changing. So, this investigation part is something that I don't believe a lot of people have experienced. In fact, I talked to several educators in the state of Florida just this morning, just asking them if have they ever seen an investigation like this take place. What kind of questions could be asked to the students?

None of them had the answers for this because this is a new process that they hadn't seen before. So, Kate, there's just a lot of confusion about how this process moves forward. And whether or not this is now a political battle that most teachers think they shouldn't be a part of.

BOLDUAN: Real -- just very quickly. We're run out of time, Ryan.

YOUNG: Yes, absolutely.

BOLDUAN: But what -- is there a timeline here?

YOUNG: You know, that's a great question. With some investigations, you know, it's 30 days. But look, school ends in two weeks, so what could happen in this and when could it end? That's something that we're all trying to figure out right now, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Ryan Young, thank you as always, Ryan. We'll continue to follow this one. That's absolutely sure.

BERMAN: All right. There has been a lot of breaking news over the last couple of hours. President Biden on his way to Japan, the debt ceiling negotiations continue, and this news from here in New York City that Prince Harry and Meghan were involved in some kind of a car chase last night. They are OK, but we are getting more information on that as well.

Thank you all for joining us. INSIDE POLITICS is up next.