Royal wedding: Bishop apologises for Facebook rant

Image caption, The Bishop criticised media coverage of the engagement as "fawning deferential nonsense"

A Church of England bishop has apologised for "deeply offensive" comments on Facebook about Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton.

The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, said the marriage would last about seven years.

"We need a party in Calais for all good republicans who can't stand the nauseating tosh that surrounds this event," he wrote of the wedding day.

The bishop has now apologised for the "distress" his comments caused.

A spokesman for Clarence House declined to comment on either the bishop's remarks or his apology.

Bishop Broadbent said in a statement that he had conveyed his "sincere regrets" over the Facebook comments both to the couple and to Prince Charles, to whom he had also referred.

'Major error'

"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," he said.

"It was unwise of me to engage in a debate with others on a semi-public internet forum and to express myself in such language.

"I accept that this was a major error of judgement on my part. I wish Prince William and Kate Middleton a happy and lifelong marriage, and will hold them in my prayers."

Image caption, No date has yet been set for the Royal wedding

The bishop made a string of comments through a series of posts on Wednesday.

Marriages should be about family, not "some piece of national flim-flam paid for out of our taxes, for a couple whose lives are going to be persecuted and spoilt by an ignorant media", he had said.

After criticising royalty for a history of broken marriages and a "corrupt and sexist" hereditary principle, he then went on to attack the "gutter press" for "persecuting" the Royal Family.

His comments were revealed in the Mail on Sunday newspaper and were criticised by Conservative MP and friend of Prince Charles, Nicholas Soames, who told the paper: "They are extremely rude, not what one expects from a bishop."

The bishop's apology was issued as the Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, prepared to formally open the General Synod, the Church's national assembly in London, on Tuesday.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: "It is extraordinary that a bishop of the Church of England should be a republican, given that Prince William - when he ascends the throne - will be his future boss."

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