The former Top Gear presenter wrote in The Sun that he dreamed of the day the Duchess of Sussex would be made to parade naked through Britain while the crowd chanted “shame” and threw “excrement” at her.
The 62-year-old wrote that “everyone who’s my age thinks the same way”.
His remarks were widely condemned by celebrities including John Bishop and Carol Vorderman, along with public figures such as Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was also name-checked in the column alongside London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Clarkson wrote on Twitter: “Oh dear. I’ve rather put my foot in it. In a column I wrote about Meghan, I made a clumsy reference to a scene in Game of Thrones and this has gone down badly with a great many people. I’m horrified to have caused so much hurt and I shall be more careful in future.”
“I have to say, taking a step back from it, my overwhelming emotion about guys like Jeremy Clarkson is pity. I mean, what is it that makes somebody so distorted by hate that they end up writing these things?
“I think that possibly gives an insight into Jeremy Clarkson and the kind of person he is. So maybe he just needs to take a step back from things and just think about life a bit more.”
Clarkson’s own daughter, Emily Clarkson, said posted online that she is “against everything that my dad wrote”.
“My views are and have always been clear when it comes to misogyny, bullying and the treatment of women by the media,” she said in a statement shared via her Instagram story.
“I want to make it very clear 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.”
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) has received more than 12,000 complaints over the article, which has since been removed from The Sun’s website.
A spokesperson for the media watchdog said: "We will follow our usual processes to examine the complaints we have received. This will take longer than usual because of the volume of complaints."
Meanwhile, a row has erupted following allegations that Clarkson and Piers Morgan – two of Markle’s most vocal critics – were invited to a Christmas lunch hosted by her mother-in-law, Camilla, Queen Consort.