Archbishop officiated at Lucian Freud’s funeral
Rowan Williams was good friends with painter and secretly presided over his Highgate Cemetery burial
THE FUNERAL of Lucian Freud, the artist and infamous philanderer who died earlier this summer, was secretly conducted by none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury, according to the Independent on Sunday.
Dr Rowan Williams, the most senior figure in the Anglican church, reportedly led the ceremony at Highgate Cemetery on July 27. Details of the funeral had not been made public – even the date was kept secret from the press. It was, according to Freud's lawyer Diana Rawstron, a "private family event".
When approached by the Independent, Lambeth Palace confirmed that the Archbishop had officiated at the service. "Rowan Williams was asked by the family to speak at the funeral which was a private occasion," a spokesman said. "I'm afraid we wouldn't know what was said."
Often described as Britain's greatest living artist before his death, Freud, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, was a close confident and good friend of the Archbishop, according to the paper. Their closeness may raise some eyebrows – Freud's infamous promiscuity, which gained him numerous illegitimate children, was very different to the life of religious contemplation that Dr Williams leads.
But the two men were linked by family. The Archbishop's wife, Jane, is the sister of painter Celia Paul, one of Lucien Freud's lovers. Indeed Williams baptised Freud and Paul's illegitimate son, Frank, after he was born in the 1980s.
In the past, the Archbishop's liberal stance, especially his views on homosexuality, has drawn criticism from the more conservative elements of the Anglican church. In June, Williams made headlines by slamming the coalition when guest-editing the left-leaning magazine New Statesman, triggering a heated rebuttal from Downing Street.
According to reports last week, the Archbishop plans to stand down from his role next year. ·
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