16 March 2012
Last updated at 12:48
Dr Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, is stepping down to take up a post at Cambridge University. During his 10-year tenure, he has been outspoken on issues including gay clergy, Sharia law, Osama bin Laden, the Iraq war, the environment, the slave trade and the ordination of women.
Dr Williams became the leader of the 85 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion in December 2002 after Dr George Carey retired. He was confirmed at St Paul's Cathedral in London and enthroned in Canterbury two months later.
The son of a mining engineer, he was born in Swansea in 1950. He excelled at school in every subject except one - he had a permanent note excusing him from sport. He was the first Welshman for at least a millennium to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury and is a fluent Welsh speaker.
In 2008, he provoked an outcry after saying the application of Islamic Sharia law in England under certain circumstances "seems unavoidable". Dr Williams argued that adopting parts of Sharia would help maintain social cohesion.
He has consistently supported the ordination of women and in 2005 backed moves allowing them to serve as bishops, to the consternation of conservative Anglicans. The broad nature of his Church, which includes Anglo-Catholics, evangelicals and liberals, means it has been hard for it to achieve unity on many matters.
The ordination of gay clergy has caused the archbishop his biggest headache. The Church of England has come close to splitting in two over the issue, and try as he might, Dr Williams failed to get traditionalist church leaders - mainly in Africa - to reconcile their differences with the liberal wing of the church in North America.
The Catholic and Anglican churches have said they must stand together against the threat of secularism and that they are stronger in co-operation than they would be divided. Yet, despite a number of meetings with the Pope, Dr Williams failed to reach any meaningful rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church.
The Archbishop has been pivotal to national events, including last year's royal wedding at which he married the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey. He later told of his delight at the "wonderful" wedding which was "shared and appreciated by millions around the world".