Jeremy Clarkson has issued an apology to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over comments he made in a column for The Sun newspaper.
The TV presenter said he had “completely messed up” after writing that he “hated” Meghan Markle who he said should be paraded “naked through the streets of every town in Britain”.
He announced he had emailed the couple on Christmas Day to apologise and said he was “mortified” when he read the article back.
The column, published in December, became the Independent Press Standard Organisation’s (IPSO) most complained about article.
The Sun later apologised for the publication after a cross-party group of MPs condemned the article in the “strongest terms” as they said it contributed to an “unacceptable climate of hatred and violence”.
On Monday, Clarkson released a lengthy statement on his Instagram account in which he admitted the column had been “disgraceful” and he was “profoundly sorry”.
He claimed, after writing thousands of newspaper articles, he was bound to “do a Harry Kane and sky one of the damn things”, referring to the England football captain’s World Cup penalty miss.
His statement said: “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.
“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.
“Usually, I read what I’ve written to someone else before filing, but I was home alone on that fateful day, and in a hurry. So when I’d finished, I just pressed send. And then, when the column appeared the next day, the land mine exploded.”
The Grand Tour presenter continued: “It was a slow rumble to start with and I ignored it. But then the rumble got louder. So I picked up a copy of The Sun to see what all the fuss was about.
“We’ve all been there, I guess. 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 knew what had happened straight away. I’d been thinking of a scene in Games Of Thrones, but I’d forgotten to mention this. So it looked like I was actually calling for revolting violence to rain down on Meghan’s head. I was very angry with myself because in all those controversial days on Top Gear, when I was accused of all sorts of things, it was very rarely sexism.
“We never did ‘women can’t park’ gags for instance. Or suggested that powerful cars were only for men. And I was thrilled when Jodie Kidd and Ellen MacArthur set fastest-ever laps in our reasonably-priced car. I’m just not sexist and I abhor violence against women. And yet I seemed to be advocating just that.
“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.”
Clarkson claimed ITV and Amazon, which airs Who Wants to be a Millionaire and The Grand Tour respectively, were “incandescent” over his comments.
He said: “The Sun quickly apologised and I tried to explain myself. But still, there were calls for me to be sacked and charged with a hate crime.
“More than 60 MPs demanded action to be taken. ITV, who make Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and Amazon, who make the Farm Show and the Grand Tour, were incandescent.
“I therefore wrote to everyone who works with me saying how sorry I was and then on Christmas morning, I e-mailed Harry and Meghan in California to apologise to them too.
“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.”
Clarkson concluded: “Over the last thirty years, I have written very nearly five thousand newspaper and magazine columns, so it was inevitable that one day, I’d do a Harry Kane and sky one of the damn things. Which is what happened with the piece about Meghan.
“So can I move on now? Not sure. It’s hard to be interesting and vigilant at the same time. You never hear peals of laughter coming from a health and safety seminar. But I promise you this, I will try.
“Who knows? Very soon now I shall be a grandfather, so in future, maybe I’ll just write about that.”
It comes after Clarkson previously tweeted in response to the outrage over the article in December.
He said: “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.”
A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: “On December 25, Mr Clarkson wrote solely to Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex. The contents of his correspondence were marked private and confidential.
“While a new public apology has been issued today by Mr Clarkson, what remains to be addressed is his long-standing pattern of writing articles that spread hate rhetoric, dangerous conspiracy theories and misogyny.
“Unless each of his other pieces were also written “in a hurry”, as he states, it is clear that this is not an isolated incident shared in haste, but rather a series of articles shared in hate.”