Queen to meet Pope

07 February 2014

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 furnished rooms.

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