Ariana Grande and Bishop Charles H. Ellis during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. Picture: Paul Sancya/AP/African News Agency (ANA)

Detroit - The bishop who officiated Aretha Franklin's funeral has apologised for inappropriately touching Ariana Grande during the service.

Speaking to Ariana, 25, onstage after she performed '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman' on Friday (31.08.18), Bishop Charles H. Ellis III put his arm around the star and appeared to touch her breast as they talked.

However, he has insisted that he did not mean to act inappropriately and he is sorry if he caused her distress.

He said: "It would never be my intention to touch any woman's breast... I don't know I guess I put my arm around her. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologise.

"I hug all the female artists and the male artists. Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That's what we are all about in the church. We are all about love. The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin."

He also issued an apology for making a joke about Ariana's name at the ceremony at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple, saying: "When I saw Ariana Grande on the programme, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell."

Picture: Paul Sancya/AP/African News Agency (ANA)

He said: "I personally and sincerely apologise to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community. When you're doing a programme for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there."

Viewers of the funeral took to Twitter to point out that the bishop's behaviour was inappropriate.

Blogger Perez Hilton wrote: "Is it just me or... was this pastor just a bit too much with Ariana Grande?"
Author Mona Eltahawy added: "I don't care what you think about Ariana Grande, her music or her dress. This is wrong. That bishop's hand should not be on her breast: I just saw this because I've been working and not watching."

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