Princess Michael of Kent Responds to Blackamoor Brooch Controversy: I'm 'Very Sorry'

Princess Michael of Kent is speaking out after she received criticism for wearing a controversial blackamoor brooch to the Queen’s annual Christmas lunch on Wednesday.

“The brooch was a gift and has been worn many times before,” a representative for Princess Michael tells PEOPLE in a statement. “Princess Michael is very sorry and distressed that it has caused offense.”

The wife of the Queen’s first cousin, 72, was pictured wearing the accessory as she arrived at Buckingham Palace. The decision to wear the brooch drew further criticism due to Meghan Markle’s biracial background (her mother is Black and her father is white) — and the fact that Princess Michael chose to wear it on the day Meghan was being introduced to many extended royal family members for the first time.

“Blackamoor” is a genre of art or jewelry originating in 16th century Venice that has been criticized for promoting imagery that is considered racist. Many blackamoor figures portray exoticized images of servants and slaves of African descent.

This isn’t the first time Princess Michael, dubbed “Princess Pushy,” has made headlines for her controversial behavior.

Princess Michael of Kent
Princess Michael of Kent

She was accused of racism in 2004. While at a New York restaurant, she was said to have told a group of African American diners to “go back to the colonies.” Following the incident, she attempted to repair her reputation in an interview that only furthered the controversy.

“I even pretended years ago to be an African, a half-caste African, but because of my light eyes I did not get away with it, but I dyed my hair black,” she told ITV.

“I traveled on African buses. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted experiences from Cape Town to right up in northern Mozambique,” she added. “I had this adventure with these absolutely adorable, special people and to call me racist: it’s a knife through the heart because I really love these people.”

The Prince and Princess of Kent are now Meghan’s new neighbors. They live in Apartment 10 on the grounds of Kensington Palace, which is a short distance from the newly engaged couple’s cozy cottage. Meghan will spend Christmas with the royal family next week when she joins them at Sandringham, the Queen’s country estate.