LONDON (Reuters) - A Church of England bishop apologized on Monday for suggesting that the marriage of Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton would only last seven years and that the couple were "shallow celebrities."
Pete Broadbent, the Bishop of Willesden in northwest London, said he was sorry for his online comments about the couple, who announced their engagement last week, which were picked up and condemned by the British media over the weekend.
"I don't care about the Royals," the bishop wrote on the social networking website Facebook, saying he was a republican and that there were "more broken marriages and philanderers among these people than not."
"They cost us an arm and a leg. As with most shallow celebrities they will be set up to fail by the gutter press ... I give the marriage seven years," he added.
His views were reported on the front page on one newspaper on Saturday and Broadbent admitted he had been unwise to make the comments on an internet forum.
"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 recognize that the tone of my language and the content of what I said were deeply offensive, and I apologize unreservedly for the hurt caused.
"I wish Prince William and Kate Middleton a happy and lifelong marriage, and will hold them in my prayers."
William and Middleton, both 28, will marry in either spring or summer 2011 and news of the wedding appears to have been well-received by most Britons, although some have questioned its cost when the country is recovering from a deep recession.
More than three-quarters of those surveyed for one opinion poll believed the wedding would be good for the monarchy while another suggested most Britons wanted William to be the next king instead of his father Prince Charles.
Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Paul Casciato