Marks & Spencer has apologised for a social media post connected to its new Christmas advert, which was accused by some users of representing a burning Palestine flag.


The since-deleted image, shared on Instagram, depicted red, white and green paper crowns being burnt in a fireplace, with the retailer saying "the intent was to playfully show that some people just don't enjoy wearing paper party hats".

The post was connected to a festive advert, which sees stars including Hannah Waddingham and Sophie Ellis-Bextor abandon time-consuming seasonal customs – such as sending cards and hiding the Elf on the Shelf – in favour of things they genuinely enjoy.

However, some viewers were alarmed that the colours of the hats in the related photo matched those seen in the Palestinian flag, criticising the burning imagery in light of recent events.

It comes as conflict in the Middle East intensifies in the wake of the Hamas-led attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli air strikes on Gaza, with the UN and World Health Organisation (WHO) expressing deep concern over an escalating humanitarian crisis.

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Amid great sensitivity and polarisation around the conflict, Marks & Spencer removed the image and issued a statement in which it apologised for "any unintentional hurt caused".

The statement reads: "Today we shared an outtake image from our Christmas Clothing and Home advert, which was recorded in August. It showed traditional, festive coloured red, green and silver Christmas paper party hats in a fire grate.

"While the intent was to playfully show that some people just don't enjoy wearing paper Christmas hats over the festive season, we have removed the post following feedback and we apologise for any unintentional hurt caused."

The full Christmas Clothing and Home advert is available to watch on YouTube, with The Marvels star Zawe Ashton and Queer Eye's Tan France among the other familiar faces.

In a similar statement to the Instagram post, one moment sees Waddingham throw gold Christmas party hats in a wood chipper, which creates a flurry of confetti in the air.

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