Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has recently discovered that he is the son of Sir Winston Churchill's last ever private secretary, Sir Anthony Montague Browne. The 60-year-old previously believed his father to be whisky salesman Gavin Welby, and has described the revelation as "a complete surprise".
The Archbishop took a DNA test to discover his true parentage, and his mother confirmed she had a brief liaison with the Sir Anthony shortly before her "very sudden" marriage to Welby.
The Archbishop's mother Jane never doubted that her first husband Gavin Welby was the father
In a personal statement, the Archbishop revealed his reaction to the news. He wrote: "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.
"I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes… Although there are elements of sadness, and even tragedy in my father's (Gavin Welby’s) case, this is a story of redemption and hope from a place of tumultuous difficulty and near despair in several lives."
Justin also opened up to The Telegraph about his feelings regarding the DNA results, explaining that he doesn't hold any resentment. He said: "I wasn't in any way upset, which I wasn't, and I remain not upset… There is no existential crisis, and no resentment against anyone.
Justin's mother, the Lady Jane Williams of Elvel, also released a statement in which she revealed her shock at the news.
"This DNA evidence proving that Gavin was not Justin's biological father, so many years after Gavin’s death, has come as an almost unbelievable shock," she wrote.
Sir Winston Churchill's last press secretary Sir Anthony Montague Browne (pictured far right) was revealed to be the Archbishop's father
She revealed details about her problematic marriage to Gavin, writing: "[Although] Gavin Welby and I had a short and, sadly, dysfunctional marriage, neither of us ever doubted that we were the parents of our son Justin… my ex-husband was a very strong, possessive character… he was bullying me to leave my job as personal secretary to the Prime Minister and run away with him and marry him… At the age of 25, as I was, the pressure became too great and in the end I found myself unable to resist.
"One feature of this pressure is that I was already drinking heavily at times... Although my recollection of events is patchy, I now recognize that during the days leading up to my very sudden marriage, and fuelled by a large amount of alcohol on both sides, I went to bed with Anthony Montague Browne."
She went on to share how proud she is of her son after his difficult childhood, writing: "I have watched Justin, from an almost impossible childhood, grow into what he is today, marry his beautiful wife, Caroline, and see his children and now grandchildren grow up. As a family we are truly blessed."