London September 9 2022: With the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth on Thursday, Prince Charles has finally become king of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms, ending a wait of more than 70 years - the longest by an heir in British history.
The role will be daunting. His late mother was overwhelmingly popular and respected, but she leaves a royal family that has seen reputations tarnished and relationships strained, including over lingering allegations of racism against Buckingham Palace officials.
Charles confronts those challenges at the age of 73, the oldest monarch to take the throne in a lineage that dates back 1,000 years, with his second wife Camilla, who still divides public opinion, by his side.
To detractors, the new king is weak, vain, interfering, and ill-equipped for the role of sovereign.
He has been ridiculed for talking to plants and obsessing over architecture and the environment, and will long be associated with his failed first marriage to the late Princess Diana.
Supporters say that is a distortion of the good work he does, that he is simply misunderstood and that in areas such as climate change he has been ahead of his time.
They argue he is thoughtful and concerned about his fellow Britons from all communities and walks of life. His Prince's Trust charity has helped more than one million unemployed and disadvantaged young people since its launch almost 50 years ago.
"The trouble is you are in a no-win situation. If you do absolutely nothing at all … they are going to complain about that," Charles once told a TV documentary. "If you try and get stuck in, do something to help, they also complain."
Throughout his life, Charles has been caught between a modernising monarchy, trying to find its place in a fast-changing and more egalitarian society, while maintaining traditions that give the institution its allure.
That tension can be seen through the lives of his own sons.
The eldest, William, 40, now the heir himself, leads a life of traditional duty, charity work and military pageantry.
Younger son Harry, 37, resides outside Los Angeles with his American ex-actress wife Meghan and family, forging a new career more in keeping with Hollywood than Buckingham Palace.
The brothers, once very close, are now barely on speaking terms.