Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the chief bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury, the see that churches must be in communion with in order to be a part of the Anglican Communion.
The current archbishop is the Most Reverend Rowan Williams. He is the 104th in a line that goes back more than 1400 years to St Augustine of Canterbury, who founded the oldest see in England in the year 597.
From the time of St Augustine until the 16th century, the Archbishops of Canterbury were in full communion with the See of Rome and thus received the pallium. During the English Reformation the church broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, at first temporarily under Henry VIII and Edward VI and later permanently during the reign of Elizabeth I.
In the Middle Ages there was considerable variation in the methods of nomination of the Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops. At various times the choice was made by the canons of Canterbury Cathedral, the King of England, or the Pope. Since the English Reformation, the Church of England has been more explicitly a state church and the choice is legally that of the British crown; today it is made in the name of the Sovereign by the Prime Minister, from a shortlist of two selected by an ad hoc committee called the Crown Nominations Commission.