14 April 2016, The Tablet

For a story of adultery and the Primate of All England, the report was a model of propriety


The face of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, looked out from the top half of the The Daily Telegraph front page on Saturday beside a big headline: “My secret father”. Coverage of this exclusive filled six more pages. The archbishop’s real father, it emerged, was Winston Churchill’s last private secretary, Sir Anthony Montague Browne.

For a story of adultery, drunkenness and the Primate of All England, the report, recounted by Charles Moore, the official biographer of Margaret Thatcher, was a model of propriety. The archbishop was told in private of the discovery of his parentage, agreed it was a news story and readily assented to its confirmation by a DNA test.

So it was that the archbishop sat in his study overlooking the garden of Lambeth Palace and swabbed the inside of his cheek 10 times with a couple of cotton buds, which were then put into a sealed container by Mr Moore for a DNA expert to analyse. “I admired his courageous matter of factness and lack of pomposity,” the journalist wrote.

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading

Register for free to read this article in full

Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £19.99 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login