Rude bishop: ‘I give Wills and Kate seven years’
Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, causes storm with republican comments
A football-loving, lager-drinking Church of England bishop has used Facebook to claim that Prince William comes from a family of "philanderers" and speculate his marriage to Kate Middleton won't last more than seven years. Bishop Pete Broadbent also denounced the couple as "shallow celebrities" and hoped their wedding would not be funded by taxpayers.
The Bishop claimed there are "more broken marriages and philanderers among these people than not", adding: "I give the marriage seven years." Saying he wanted to be out of the country during next year’s royal wedding, the republican clergyman recalled he had "managed to avoid the last disaster in slow motion between Big Ears and the Porcelain Doll".
Broadbent, who is Bishop of Willesden in north-west London, also denounced the "nauseating tosh" surrounding the engagement. "Never underestimate the capacity of the media to descend into the most fawning deferential nonsense and to rake up trivia and irrelevance until it comes out of their every orifice."
The Bishop’s provocative comments are the loudest dissonant notes raised against the chorus of national approval of the Royal engagement – and they are deeply embarrassing for the Church of England and, in particular, Broadbent's boss Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London.
Chartres has been tipped as the likely choice to conduct William and Kate's wedding, in a break from the tradition that royal weddings are conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the Church yesterday stood by their man, with Lambeth palace issuing a statement saying that the Bishop was “entitled to his views”.
Tory MP Nicholas Soames, however, told the Daily Mail that Broadbent's comments were "extremely rude... not what one expects from a bishop".
The rest of the Bishop's Facebook and Twitter utterances are certainly not quite what one expects – though less controversial than his republican sentiments. Broadbent is a fanatical fan of Spurs – with his delight in a recent victory prompting one friend to accuse him of a lack of Christian charity. His profile picture shows the Bishop enjoying a stein of lager at a pavement cafe.
Commenting further on his Facebook page today, the Bishop accused the Mail of hypocrisy. He had predicted the paper would quote him selectively, not repeating his criticism of the media’s treatment of the royal family or his assertion that the royal couple would be hounded "to death" by the "gutter press".
Speaking his mind on the record in a globally public forum, the Bishop apparently saw no hypocrisy in accusing others of "persecuting the Royals" through the media – his comments about the Windsors as a family of "philanderers" can be read by anybody, not just by his 963 online 'friends'.
Meanwhile, two new polls suggest overwhelming public support for William to become the next king, with his father sidelined. In a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, 56 per cent said William would make a better king than Charles, while an ICM survey for the News of the World suggested 64 per cent want to see him on the throne. ·
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