‘A mea culpa with bells on’: Jeremy Clarkson shares apology letter to Meghan Markle

Former ‘Top Gear’ host says he hated duchess on a ‘cellular level’ in column

Isobel Lewis,Liam James
Monday 16 January 2023 14:42 GMT
Jeremy Clarkson's Meghan column breaks Ipso record as most complained about article

Jeremy Clarkson has written an apology to Duke and Duchess of Sussex after penning a newspaper column in which he hoped that she would one day be forced to parade naked through the streets.

The former Top Gear presenter said he felt “sick” upon realising he had “completely messed up”, following widespread condemnation from public figures, including Harry and Meghan.

However, the couple cast doubt on the presenter’s claim, saying he had written only to Harry.

And Amazon has reportedly cut ties with Clarkson – sources told Variety that Prime Video, the tech giant’s streaming service, will no longer be working with the British presenter beyond episodes of The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm that have already been commissioned.

The Independent also understands ITV has not made any further commitments to Clarkson beyond the upcoming series of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

In the column, published in The Sun on 16 December, Clarkson wrote that he despised Meghan on “a cellular level” and dreamt of the day that the duchess would be made to parade naked through Britain while a crowd chanted “shame” and threw “excrement” at her.

Clarkson claimed that “everyone who’s my age thinks the same way”.

The original column was met with immediate backlash online, with the press watchdog Ipso receiving more than 20,000 complaints to become their most complained-about article ever.

The 62-year-old initially tweeted on 19 December that he would be “more careful in future”, which many branded a “non-apology”.

Almost a month later, Clarkson has claimed that he also personally reached out to Meghan and Harry to apologise in December.

In a lengthy statement shared on his Instagram, the presenter said he was “profoundly sorry” for his “disgraceful” language used in the column.

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“One of the strange things I’ve noticed in recent times is that whenever an MP or a well-known person is asked to apologise for something, no matter how heartfelt or profound that apology may be, it’s never enough for the people who called for it in the first place,” he wrote.

“So I’m going to try and buck the trend this morning with an apology for the things I said in a Sun column recently about Meghan Markle. I really am sorry. All the way from the balls of my feet to the follicles on my head. This is me putting my hands up. It’s a mea culpa with bells on.”

Jeremy Clarkson was widely condemned for his comments about the Duchess of Sussex (AFP via Getty Images)

Clarkson said that he’d been alone when he’d written the column and had originally failed to understand why high-profile figures, politicians, and even his own daughter, Emily Clarkson, were complaining. However, he then “picked up a copy of The Sun to see what all the fuss was about” and understood.

“We’ve all been there, I guess,” he wrote. “In that precise moment when we suddenly realise we’ve completely messed up. You are sweaty and cold at the same time. And your head pounds. And you feel sick. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Had I really said that? It was horrible.

“I was mortified and so was everyone else. My phone went mad. Very close friends were furious. Even my own daughter took to Instagram to denounce me.”

The presenter added that both ITV and Amazon Studios had been “incandescent” about the column.

Clarkson says he wrote to the royals on Christmas day to apologise (PA Wire)

“I therefore wrote to everyone who works with me saying how sorry I was and then on Christmas morning, I emailed Harry and Meghan in California to apologise to them too,” he said.

“I said I was baffled by what they had been saying on TV but that the language I’d used in my column was disgraceful and that I was profoundly sorry.”

Read Clarkson’s statement in full here.

Clarkson initally shared a response to the backlash days after the original column was published, tweeting that he had “clumsily” referenced a scene in Game of Thrones, adding: “I’m horrified to have caused so much hurt and I shall be more careful in future.”

In an interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby for the release of his memoir Spare, Harry called Clarkson’s column “hurtful and cruel”, adding: “But it also encourages other people around the UK and around the world, men particularly, to go and think that it’s acceptable to treat women that way.”

The couple’s associate and unofficial biographer Omid Scobie said the email on 25 December has been sent “solely to Prince Harry” and said Clarkson’s other comments about Meghan “remain to be addressed”.

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