DNA testing has revealed that the Archbishop of Canterbury is not the biological son of the man he believed was his father.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby has spent his whole life thinking his father was Gavin Welby, an alcoholic whisky salesman who was married to his mother Jane for three years. But a paternity test has now shown that Archbishop Welby’s biological father is actually the late Sir Anthony Montague Browne, who worked as Sir Winston Churchill’s private secretary.
The Archbishop agreed to take a DNA test after he was approached by journalists working at The Telegraph who had carried out research suggesting he could be Sir Anthony’s son. Swabs of his mouth were used to collect a DNA sample and this was compared with DNA taken from hair collected from Sir Anthony’s hairbrush.
A paternity test showed there was a 99.9779 per cent chance that Archbishop Welby was Sir Anthony’s son.
The Archbishop’s mother Lady Williams of Elvel released a statement saying the news was an “almost unbelievable shock”. Although she has confirmed that she had a liaison with Sir Anthony, she had always believed her husband was the father of her son.
‘My own experience is typical of many people’
Archbishop Welby told the Telegraph: “There is no existential crisis and no resentment against anyone. My identity is founded in who I am in Christ.”
He added: “My own experience is typical of many people. To find that one’s father is other than imagined is fairly frequent. To be the child of families with great difficulties in relationships, with substance abuse or other matters, is far too normal.”
Both Archbishop Welby’s mother and the man he believed was his father had issues with alcohol addiction when he was a child. But Lady Williams managed to kick the habit and has been in recovery since 1968.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is not alone is being mistaken about the identity of his father. Recent research has suggested up to two per cent of British fathers may be the victim of paternity fraud.
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