Archbishop of Canterbury conceived during mum’s drunken affair with Churchill secretary

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby © Stefan Wermuth
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has revealed that his (earthly) father was Winston Churchill’s private secretary who had a drunken affair with his mother, now known as Lady Williams of Elvel.

It all came to light during an investigation by Telegraph reporters, who pieced the story together and approached Welby.

The truth was confirmed in a DNA test and was revealed Friday night.

The Archbishop believed his father was Gavin Welby, the son of a German Jewish immigrant, but his mother Jane Portal, who gained her current 'Lady' title when she married Labour peer Charles Williams in 1975, has since admitted she had a “liaison” with Winston Churchill's private secretary, Sir Anthony Montague Browne, in 1955.

Lady Williams also worked as a personal secretary for Winston Churchill at the time.

She said her memory of the events was "patchy", but recalled going "to bed" with Sir Anthony after “a large amount of alcohol on both sides.”

DNA samples were taken from hair found on a brush kept by Browne’s widow and compared with a mouth swab from the Archbishop.

The widow said she had been aware that her husband may have had another child - and had noticed the resemblance between him and the Archbishop.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Sir Anthony Montague Browne  © Reuters / wikipedia.org

Archbishop Welby, who said in 2013 that his "understanding of sexual ethics has been that, regardless of whether it's gay or straight, sex outside marriage is wrong", is the most senior cleric in the global Anglican church.

The revelation of his not-so-immaculate conception may come as a shock to the Anglican congregation.

"As a result of my parents' addictions, my early life was messy, although I had the blessing and gift of a wonderful education, and was cared for deeply by my grandmother, my mother once she was in recovery, and my father [Gavin Welby] as far as he was able," Archbishop Welby said.

“My own experience is typical of many people. To find that one's father is other than imagined is not unusual. To be the child of families with great difficulties in relationships, with substance abuse or other matters, is far too normal,” he added.

Lady Williams released a statement following the news: “Although my recollection of events is patchy, I now recognize that during the days leading up to my very sudden marriage, and fueled by a large amount of alcohol on both sides, I went to bed with Anthony Montague Browne. It appears that the precautions taken at the time didn't work and my wonderful son was conceived as a result of this liaison."

Archbishop Welby attended Eton and Trinity College Cambridge, then spent 11 years as an oil executive before entering the priesthood in 1987. The death of his seven-month-old daughter in 1983 led him to the decision.