When Prince Charles, who turns 70 next week, becomes king on the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth, he will have waited longer than any of his predecessors to head a royal family that dates back 1,000 years.
Some monarchists fear, and republicans hope, he will be a poor king.
His admirers believe his wisdom, thoughtfulness and concerns for conservation and the environment will win him the public support he deserves.
Overshadowing it all is his late first wife, Princes Diana, the acrimonious end to their marriage, and the enduring hostility in some quarters to his second wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
“You are accused of being controversial just because you are trying to draw attention to things that aren’t necessarily part of the conventional viewpoint,” Charles said in an interview with GQ magazine in September.
“My problem is I find there are too many things that need doing or battling on behalf of.”
Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Earl of Chester, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland was born at Buckingham Palace on Nov. 14, 1948.
He was four when his grandfather George VI died and his mother ascended to the throne at the age of 25.
The following year, Charles watched with his grandmother and aunt, the late Princess Margaret, as Elizabeth was crowned queen of 16 realms.
He despised his remote Scottish school, Gordonstoun, which his father also attended, but was the first royal heir to get a degree after studying at Cambridge University.
Charles was made Prince of Wales at a grand ceremony in 1969. But at 92 his mother remains in good health with no plans to abdicate, so his wait goes on.
For his critics, and even some monarchists who think he will bring disaster upon the House of Windsor, that is no bad thing.