Dr Rowan Williams, 62, departs as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury to take up the posts of Master of Magdalene College Cambridge and chairman of the board of trustees of Christian Aid, the international development agency.
He will be replaced by 56-year-old former oil executive the Rt Rev Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, who will be consecrated in March at Canterbury Cathedral as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Church of England bishops and former prime minister Tony Blair have paid tribute to Dr Williams, describing him as "loved and deeply respected" and someone who had given "unwavering" service to the Church of England and the wider nation.
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