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A lifetime spent waiting, Charles finally takes the throne. What can we expect?

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Prince Charles has been preparing for the crown his entire life. Now, at age 73, that moment has finally arrived.

Charles, the oldest person to ever assume the British throne, became King Charles III on Thursday following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. No date has been set for his coronation.

After an apprenticeship that began as a child, Charles embodies the modernization of the British monarchy. He was the first heir not educated at home, the first to earn a university degree and the first to grow up in the ever-intensifying glare of the media as deference to royalty faded.

He also alienated many with his messy divorce from the much-loved Princess Diana, and by straining the rules that prohibit royals from intervening in public affairs, wading into debates on issues such as environmental protection and architectural preservation,

"He now finds himself in, if you like, the autumn of his life, having to think carefully about how he projects his image as a public figure," said historian Ed Owens. "He's nowhere near as popular as his mother."

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Charles must figure out how to generate the "public support, a sense of endearment" that characterized the relationship Elizabeth had with the British public, Owens said.

In other words, will Charles be as loved by his subjects? It's a question that has overshadowed his entire life.

A shy boy with a domineering father, Charles grew into a sometimes-awkward, understated man who is nevertheless confident in his own opinions. Unlike his mother, who refused to publicly discuss her views, Charles has delivered speeches and written articles on issues close to his heart, such as climate change, green energy and alternative medicine.

His accession to the throne is likely to fuel debate about the future of Britain's largely ceremonial monarchy, seen by some as a symbol of national unity and others as an obsolete vestige of feudal history.

Read more profiles of King Charles III

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