It is quite funny that Jeremy Clarkson, having written a silly joke about the Duchess of Sussex being paraded naked through the streets, should now find himself so ritually humiliated.

Clarkson, now in danger of losing his role as an Amazon television presenter and the acceptable face of British men who like cars, has felt compelled to apologize not once not twice but thrice. He first said sorry on Twitter, before Christmas. He also wrote to Harry. Then yesterday, in a statement, he performed the full grovel.

"I really am sorry," he said. "All the way from...

It is quite funny that Jeremy Clarkson, having written a silly joke about the Duchess of Sussex being paraded naked through the streets, should now find himself so ritually humiliated.

Clarkson, now in danger of losing his role as an Amazon television presenter and the acceptable face of British men who like cars, has felt compelled to apologize not once not twice but thrice. He first said sorry on Twitter, before Christmas. He also wrote to Harry. Then yesterday, in a statement, he performed the full grovel.

“I really am sorry,” he said. “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.”

Clarkson said he’d rushed his work — which of us hasn’t? — and not had his Sun column properly checked, thus neatly blaming the paper’s sub-editors while appearing to berate himself.

Having been publicly rebuked by his delightful daughter Emily on Instagram, Clarkson went on feebly to insist that he’s never been guilty of sexism in the past. “In all those controversial days on Top Gear,” he bleated, “we never once did ‘women can’t park’ gags or suggested that powerful cars were only for men.” In other words: “I’m not Andrew Tate, people, please, please please.”

Would the Duke and Duchess of Sussex accept this latest act of contrition? Would they heck! Through a spokesperson, the royal couple shot back:

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.

It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what is so irritating about that statement. It might be the sub-literate pomposity, the crud English dressed up as wit for social-media consumption. Haste rhymes with hate! You’ve so been owned Clarkson, lol!

It might be the lack of graciousness. We must assume that Harry and Meghan signed off on the riposte. They didn’t then just ignore — or refuse to accept — Clarkson’s apology. With vulgar haste, the Sussexes poured more scorn on Clarkson. They appear to be reveling in his public embarrassment and their PR victory.

Once again, it’s obvious that Harry and Meghan are determined not to move on but to wallow in grievance. This is their whole shtick now — the House of Sussex is a double-headed media machine devoted to stewing over the past. It works, annoyingly. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this article and you wouldn’t be reading it.

Worst of all, though, the Sussexes’ reaction betrays an authoritarian streak. Note the headteacherish or judge-like tone in phrases such as “what remains to be addressed” and “not an isolated incident.”

The couple don’t much care if Clarkson is sorry for the hurt he may or may not have caused them. He must be corrected for his “long-standing pattern” of erroneous remarks. Their spokesperson’s language is partly facetious — troll fuel for the online fire. It’s also deadly serious. It’s the same bossy voice that Harry used over and over in his publicity tour last week, as he insisted that his family must be held “accountable” for their wrongs.

Is this the sort of royal behavior that progressive people seek? For hundreds of years, the British royal family has accepted that its role is not to regulate the speech of others or to declare who is persona grata and who is not.

Yet the very twenty-first century Sussexes have a much grander and more regal vision for themselves. They want to make the rules over what is acceptable and what is not, what is true and what is not, what is irredeemably racist and what is forgivable “unconscious bias.”

Which leaves quite a lot of us wondering: who, exactly, do they think they are?

This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.