Sunday, April 10, 2016 9:39 am
A DNA test has revealed that the leader of the world’s Anglicans, Justin Welby, is the illegitimate son of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s last private secretary, British media have reported.
Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said in a statement that the identity of his father — which he only discovered a month ago — had come as “a complete surprise,” The Independent reported on its website.
He believed he was the son of Gavin Welby, who died in 1977 when the younger Welby was 21, and who was briefly married to his mother Jane.
But after being approached by the Daily Telegraph with research into his family background, he discovered his father was actually Anthony Montague Browne, who served Churchill in Downing Street, and who had a brief affair with Jane before she married Gavin Welby.
But the 60-year-old cleric insisted he was not disturbed by the discovery.
“This revelation has, of course, been a surprise, but in my life and in our marriage Caroline and I have had far worse. I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes.” Welby said in a statement.
“Even more importantly my role as archbishop makes me constantly aware of the real and genuine pain and suffering of many around the world, which should be the main focus of our prayers,” he added.
There had been rumors surrounding Welby’s lineage before — with Sir Montague Browne’s widow suspecting he was her husband’s child because of the strong resemblance between the pair.
But Welby said he had always dismissed this because he was born almost exactly nine months after his parents got married.
For centuries, men born illegitimately were barred from becoming archbishops. However, a little-known change in the law in the 1950s leaves Welby safe in his position.