Jeremy Clarkson, the longtime host of “Top Gear” as well as other shows, is also a weekly columnist for the newspaper The Sun. In a column this week, he weighed in on the “Harry & Meghan” Netflix series.
“I hate her. Not like I hate Nicola Sturgeon or Rose West,” Clarkson wrote of Markle, referencing, respectively, a Scottish politician and a serial killer of the 1970s and ‘80s. “I hate her on a cellular level. At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.”
This was a reference to an episode of “Game of Thrones,” at the end of Season 5, when the character of Cersei (Lena Headey) is forced by the Faith Militant to walk naked through the streets of King’s Landing as Septa Unella repeatedly rings a bell and says “Shame.”
After an outcry, Clarkson asked to have the column taken down. However, Clarkson’s previous column, with the headline “I had argument with someone – we both agreed Meghan Markle is unhinged monster, but couldn’t agree just how awful she is,” remains online.
“Oh dear. I’ve rather put my foot in it,” Clarkson said on Twitter this week. “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.”
Others pointed out that while Clarkson vowed to be more careful, he did not directly apologize in the tweet.
Following the column, 60 members of Parliament have written a letter to the newspaper’s editor calling for The Sun to take action against Clarkson. The shadow culture minister, meanwhile, called for the personality to be banned from appearing on television.
“Following grotesque comments made about the First Minster and The Duchess of Sussex, I do not believe Jeremy Clarkson should be allowed back on our screens. I’ve written to the Chief Executive of ITV,” John Nicolson said in a letter this week.
Britain’s Independent Press Standards Organisation said that the column led to the most complaints of any article in its history, drawing 17,500 of them as of this morning, according to The Guardian. In fact, the regularly received more complaints about that article than it received for all articles put together in the entirety of 2021.
Clarkson’s daughter Emily, a podcast host, also weighed in on the controversy.
“My views are and have always been clear when it comes to misogyny, bullying and the treatment of women by the media,” Emily Clarkson said on Instagram, as reported by The Independent. “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 Times, meanwhile, reported this week that Harry and Meghan are pushing for a sit-down with the royal family, and for an apology for how they have been treated.
“Nothing like that was ever done when Harry and Meghan raised various concerns — no meeting, formal apology or taking responsibility or accountability. That is hard to swallow — 100 percent yes they’d like to have a meeting,” a source close to the couple told the newspaper, in reference to a recent meeting held between the late queen’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, and charity boss Ngozi Fulani.
Prince Harry’s memoir, “Spare,” is set to be released early next year.
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.