British bishop apologises for royal wedding remarks

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A British bishop apologised Monday for making "deeply offensive" comments on Twitter and Facebook in which he said the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton would only last seven years.

Pete Broadbent, the Church of England Bishop of Willesden in north London, said he was sorry for referring to the royal family as "philanderers" and sent his best wishes to the couple, who announced their engagement last week.

"I have conveyed to Prince Charles and to Prince William and Kate Middleton my sincere regrets for the distress caused by my remarks and the subsequent media attention about the forthcoming royal wedding," he said in a statement.

"I recognise that the tone of my language and the content of what I said were deeply offensive, and I apologise unreservedly for the hurt caused."

Broadbent made a post on his Twitter microblogging site on Tuesday, the day the royal engagement was announced, saying: "Need to work out what date in the spring or summer I should be booking my republican day trip to France..."

In comments reported by the Daily Mail newspaper, he made follow-up postings on the Facebook social networking site, saying the royal family cost the public too much to support and branding them "shallow celebrities."

Another post said: "I give the marriage seven years."

He also referred to William's parents, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, who divorced in 1996, as "Big Ears and the Porcelain Doll."

William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, is the supreme head of the Church of England.

In his statement on Monday, Broadbent said the comments were a "major error of judgment on my part" and added: "I wish Prince William and Kate Middleton a happy and lifelong marriage, and will hold them in my prayers."

Clarence House, the office of Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry, said it was not commenting on the bishop's apology.

William and Kate have announced that they will marry in London in spring or summer next year. The date and venue are expected to be revealed this week, with bookmakers favouring April 28 in historic Westminster Abbey.

© 2010 AFP

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