By JONATHAN PETRE
Rebuked: The Rev Dr Martin Dudley provoked criticism for hiring out his church for filming of the Royal Wedding spoof video
A controversial clergyman accused of mocking the Royal Family after he hired out his church for a spoof Royal Wedding video has been urged by his bosses to give the money to charity.
The Rev Dr Martin Dudley charged £3,500 for the use of his City of London church to make the film in which Royal Family and Archbishop of Canterbury lookalikes cavort down the nave to the song House Of Love by Nineties boyband East 17.
The rector has now come under pressure from the Archdeacon of London, David Meara, who oversees clergy conduct, to donate the money to one of Prince William’s charities after complaints that the video was ‘cheap and common’.
Royal look-a-likes enjoy their moment in the spotlight at St Bartholomew's Church, London
The two-minute film promoting mobile-phone company T-Mobile has become an internet sensation and has been viewed 20 million times since it was posted on YouTube a month ago.
In the video, an Archbishop Rowan Williams lookalike is seen prancing towards the altar followed by a bottom-bumping Prince Charles and Camilla, a clapping Queen and a pelvis-thrusting Prince Harry.
The congregation breaks into cheers when a lookalike Prince William leap-frogs his brother and fist-pumps the air before pointing at his bride. A Kate Middleton impersonator, in a strapless gown, hip-grinds with the Prince before dancing up to the altar.
T-Mobile said the advertisement, which was made by Saatchi & Saatchi, was ‘a congratulatory message to William and Kate as well as a way of capturing the nation’s celebratory mood’.
'Sense of humour failure': The Rev Dr Martin Dudley has dismissed criticisms of the spoof video
But a senior cleric complained to the Archdeacon of London that it was ‘embarrassing’. The Archdeacon operates as the ‘ears and eyes’ of the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, a close friend of Prince Charles.
The unnamed cleric said: ‘Do we have to stand by and be embarrassed by this, especially when the Church of England is trying to encourage weddings in church? It makes a mockery of the whole thing.’
Dr Dudley, who was rebuked by Bishop Chartres in 2008 after he conducted a gay ‘marriage’ between two priests in his church, dismissed the criticisms and said he was not able to give away the money.
‘I think it is a sense-of-humour failure,’ he said. ‘I wasn’t there at the filming of it but I thought the video was tremendously amusing and was just creating a sense of joy around the wedding.’
He said that under charity rules, all money from filming had to be used for the promotion of the work of the church within the parish. He added: ‘Therefore I am not at liberty to do anything.’
The T-Mobile Royal Wedding