Jeremy Clarkson has said he is “horrified to have caused so much hurt” following backlash over comments he made in a newspaper column about how he “hated” the Duchess of Sussex.
The former Top Gear presenter, 62, said he would “be more careful in future” after the piece, written in The Sun, attracted criticism from high-profile figures and his own daughter.
In it, Clarkson wrote he had dreamed of Meghan being paraded through British towns and publicly shamed, adding that “everyone who’s my age thinks the same way”.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) said it had received more than 6,000 complaints over the article – almost half the total number of complaints the media regulator received in 2021.
Writing on Twitter on Monday, Clarkson wrote: “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.”
Clarkson’s article followed the recent broadcast of Harry and Meghan’s explosive six-part Netflix documentary, in which the couple made allegations of mistreatment by the royal family.
Those criticising the piece included Nicola Sturgeon, Carol Vorderman, Sir Philip Pullman and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
A spokesperson for Ipso told the PA news agency that the regulator had received over 6,000 complaints about Clarkson’s article as of midday on Monday, and that the number was subject to change.
He added that the complaints were were being assessed in accordance with its standard procedure.
Ipso received a total of 14,355 complaints in 2021, the spokesman added.
Speaking to broadcasters on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said Clarkson’s comments about the duchess were “beyond the pale”.
“I think what he said about Meghan Markle was deeply misogynist and just downright awful and horrible,” she said.
“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 daughter, Emily Clarkson, said in an online post 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 on 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.”
Former Countdown host Vorderman said Clarkson’s comments were unacceptable “in any circumstance”.
“NO Jeremy Clarkson. Not on any level, in any circumstance, is it ok to write this stuff about any woman & absolutely NO to ‘everyone who’s my age thinks the same’.
“No no no. We absolutely do NOT think the same. Listen to the noise Jeremy. The crowds are chanting ‘shame on YOU’.”
Mr Khan said Clarkson’s remarks were “dangerous and inexcusable”, writing: “As Jeremy Clarkson should well know – words have consequences.
“The words in his piece are no joke – they’re dangerous and inexcusable.
“We are in an epidemic of violence against women and girls and men with powerful voices must do better than this.”