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U.K. bishop suspended for royal potshot on Facebook

Queen Elizabeth II is technically his boss, so it probably wasn't smart for the Bishop of Willesden to make snarky posts about how he thinks Prince William's marriage won't last.

Note to Twitter-happy bishops: the lady in blue is your boss.
CC LamrockImages/Flickr

The Diocese of London official biography for Peter Broadbent, bishop of Willesden, explains that the man of the cloth is a season-ticket-holding football fan who appreciates good beer, so he sounds like an upstanding gentleman.

But according to a number of U.K. news outlets, Broadbent is treading in some very unholy waters these days after making remarks on Facebook about the impending nuptials of Prince William and fiancee Kate Middleton, in which he referred to the events surrounding their April 2011 wedding as "nauseating tosh," compared the couple to "shallow celebrities," and predicted the marriage wouldn't last longer than seven years.

He also tweeted, in posts that have since been removed, that the whole affair is "massively irrelevant (if an expensive frippery)."

He may well be right, and he gets points in my book for using the fantastic word "frippery." Still, it's a fairly serious matter in the U.K. Were this a U.S. clergy making comments about the younger generation of stateside spawn in the news--say, Bristol Palin on "Dancing with the Stars"--that person likely would be criticized for a mean-spirited remark but likely wouldn't be punished much. But the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is also technically the head of the Church of England, so in effect, Broadbent was bad-mouthing his boss' grandson on big and far-reaching social-media sites, and that doesn't fly too well. The bishop, though he has apologized for his case of Facebook trigger-finger, has been suspended indefinitely.

"I have now had an opportunity to discuss with Bishop Peter how his comments came to be made and I have noted his unreserved apology," a statement from the Bishop of London printed by The Guardian read. "Nevertheless, I have asked him to withdraw from public ministry until further notice."

The Bishop of Willesden has apologized publicly. "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 wrote in a statement that was posted to the Diocese of London's Web site. "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. 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 judgment on my part. I wish Prince William and Kate Middleton a happy and lifelong marriage, and will hold them in my prayers."

It's no secret that loose lips on Facebook can get you fired--clergy, it seems, are not immune to this either.