THE QUEEN will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican in the spring,
Buckingham Palace has announced. The private audience on 3 April
will be the first time the two have met.
A statement issued by the Palace on Tuesday said that the Queen
will be joined by the Duke of Edinburgh. In their first overseas
trip in three years, the Queen and Prince Philip will visit Rome
for a day "at the invitation of the President of Italy", Giorgio
Napolitano, the Palace said.
"The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh . . . will attend a private
lunch hosted by the President," the Palace said. "Following the
private lunch, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will have an
audience with His Holiness Pope Francis."
The Queen has had a succession of meetings with popes during her
62-year reign. She met Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1980,
and then welcomed him to the UK two years later, before meeting him
in Rome again in 2000.
In September 2010, the Queen welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to
Holyrood House on the first stage of his British tour, which
concluded with the beatification of John Henry Newman.
The media have speculated that the royal couple will not meet
Pope Francis in the Vatican state apartments, but in the Domus
Sanctæ Marthæ hostel, where Pope Francis has three modestly