Churchill’s Longtime Private Secretary Revealed to be the True Father of the Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop Welby already knew that he had close connections with the Churchill circle. His mother worked for Sir Winston herself as a personal secretary from 1949–1955. This was how she came to know Montague Browne. On her mother’s side she is the niece of R. A. B. Butler, who served as a Cabinet minister under Churchill during the war and again in the 1950s. On her father’s side she is the niece of Sir Charles Portal, who served as Chief of the Air Staff for most of the Second World War. Lady Williams attended the 2011 Churchill Conference in London where she spoke along with Hugh Lunghi as part of a panel called “Working with Churchill.”
Anthony Montague Browne was born 8 May 1923. The son of an army colonel, he was educated in Switzerland and at Stowe. His time at Oxford was interrupted by war service. He qualified as an RAF pilot and was assigned to fly Beaufighter aircraft and later the Mosquito. His combat skill in the Middle East and Burma theatres earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross at the end of the war. It was this on top of his post-war service in the Foreign Office and fluent French, Montague Browne believed, which caused Churchill to select him to be his private secretary in October 1952. Sadly he died only days after his son was invested as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013 before a previously agreed-upon meeting between the two of them could take place.
The Archbishop took the whole business of the revelation with great equanimity. And why not? He already knew that his mother was also a direct descendant of the First Duke of Richmond—the illegitimate son of King Charles II.