British television presenter Jeremy Clarkson said on Monday (Dec 19) he is “horrified to have caused so much hurt” with a scathing column about Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan, that attracted a flood of complaints.
Clarkson, who hosts motoring show The Grand Tour on Amazon, wrote in tabloid newspaper The Sun that he hated the former Meghan Markle “on a cellular level” and dreamed of her being paraded naked through British towns “while the crowds chant ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her”.
Media watchdog the Independent Press Standards Organization said it had received more than 12,000 complaints about the column by Monday – close to the total number of complaints it received in all of 2021.
The column was removed from The Sun’s website on Monday.
The press regulator said it had received more than 6,000 complaints about the column – almost half as many as the total number of complaints it received last year.
Clarkson, who made his name as the combative host of the BBC car show Top Gear, said the public shaming image was “a clumsy reference” to a scene in Game of Thrones.
“I’m horrified to have caused so much hurt and I shall be more careful in future,” he wrote on Twitter.
Clarkson’s column followed the release of a six-part Netflix documentary about Harry and Meghan’s acrimonious split from the British royal family. The couple quit royal duties and moved to California in 2020, citing a lack of support from the palace and racist press treatment of Meghan, who is biracial.
Clarkson’s column was condemned by public figures including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who called it “deeply misogynist and just downright awful and horrible”.
Clarkson’s daughter Emily Clarkson posted on Instagram that “I stand against everything that my dad wrote about Meghan Markle and I remain standing in support of those that are targeted with online hatred”.
Asked about the article, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that “for everyone in public life, language matters.” He added that “I absolutely don’t believe that Britain is a racist country.”