Princess Charlene of Monaco visited the Vatican in an all-white outfit today as it’s revealed she is one of only seven people allowed to don the colour while meeting Pope Francis.
The 37-year-old mother-of-two was joined by her husband Prince Albert, 57, at the Apostolic Palace ahead of their audience with the pontiff. The trip – a formal state visit between the world’s two smallest countries – will mark Princess Charlene’s fourth official tour of the city.
Princess Charlene stepped out of her chauffeur-driven car into the bright Italian sunshine wearing a white lace mantilla and collarless winter coat. A peep of the style icon’s knee-length cream dress was just visible underneath her outerwear.
Pope Francis meet with Princess Charlene, dressed head to toe in white, and Prince Albert of Monaco during a private audience at the Vatican
The trip – a formal state visit between the world’s two smallest countries – will mark Princess Charlene’s fourth official tour of the city
Princess Charlene of Monaco visited the Vatican in an all-white outfit today as it’s revealed she is one of only seven people allowed to don the colour while meeting Pope Francis
The Zimbabwe-born former sports star kept the look elegant with a pair of leather gloves, pointed nude heels and a slick of red lipstick.
The attire chosen by Charlene for her state visit is of great importance. She is one of only seven women in the world that has been given ‘the privilege of the white’ – or the ability to wear white when meeting with the pope.
Called le privilége du blanc in French or il privilegio del biacno in Italian, the special tradition is extended solely to designated Catholic queens and princesses and is usually reserved for important events at the Vatican such as private audiences, canonisations, beatifications and special masses.
Princess Charlene is bestowed this privilege, along with Queen Sofía of Spain, Queen Paola of Belgium, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Queen Letizia of Spain and Princess Marina of Naples.
Normal protocol for papal audiences require that ladies wear a long black dress with a high collar and long sleeves, and a black mantilla.
Princess Charlene was seem kissing Pope Francis’s hand as her husband Prince Albert and members of the chaplain looked on
Prince Albert and Pope Francis appeared to share a joke while Princess Charlene shook the pontiff’s hand
Princess Charlene appeared calm and at ease in Pope Francis’ presence ahead of their private meeting
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, greeted Princess Charlene and Prince Albert with a warm smile and handshake
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, offers Princess Charlene and Prince Albert a seat ahead of their private meeting with Pope Francis
Prince Albert and Pope Francis listened intently as Princess Charlene chatted openly to the group
Pope Francis sat with Princess Charlene and Prince Albert during a private audience at the Vatican, as his aides looked on
The Monaco royals were photographed strolling inside the Apostolic Palace along with Pope Francis
Princess Charlene kept her make-up elegant with a slick of red lipstick and a touch of grey eyeshadow
Princess Charlene stepped out of her chauffeur-driven car into the bright Italian sunshine wearing a white lace veil and collarless winter coat
Princess Charlene appeared deep in thought as she arrived for the state visit at Vatican City
The 37-year-old mother-of-two was joined by her husband Prince Albert, 57, at the Apostolic Palace ahead of their audience with the pontiff
In April 2006, Cherie Blair raised eyebrows and the ire of a Roman Catholic MP by wearing an all-white outfit to meet Pope Benedict
Pope Francis meets King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain at the Paul VI Hall on April 28, 2014 in Vatican City
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and Spain’s Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos attend Pope Benedict XVI’s inaugural mass in Saint Peter’s Square in April 2005
Pope Francis chats to Queen Mathilde of Belgium as she needs helps to stand up during a private audience in March 2015
Pope Francis meets King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain at his private library in the Apostolic Palace in June 2014
Pope Francis greets King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium after the canonisation in which John Paul II and John XXIII were declared saints in April 2014
WHAT IS THE PRIVILEGE DU BLANC?
It is a French term used for a tradition whereby certain designated Catholic queens and princesses are permitted to wear a white dress and white mantilla during an audience with the Pope. The Italian term is il privilegio del bianco.
The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household sometimes issues special instructions when the privilege may be used, such as during papal audiences or masses at the beginning of a pope’s reign.
A Catholic princess or queen retains the privilege at the discretion of the pope, by which they remain a Catholic in good public standing; or married into another Catholic monarch, or simply granted by the Pope at his dispensation.
In April 2006, Cherie Blair raised eyebrows and the ire of a Roman Catholic MP by wearing an all-white outfit to meet Pope Benedict.
Cherie, wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, is a staunch Catholic and chose to exercise the ‘privilege du blanc’. Her breach of the protocol was surprising at the time as she had kept closely to the Church’s dress code in the past.
When the Queen met Pope John Paul II in 2000, she observed the code meticulously. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, wore black, but omitted the veil.
Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory minister, was scathing about Cherie at the time: ‘Even the Queen wore black to meet the Pope. This shows that she has a very grand idea of herself. She is a Catholic. She knows what the tradition is when meeting the Pope.
‘She obviously thinks she is the first lady. My message to her is, “You are not a Catholic Queen, my dear, and you never will be”.’
After exiting their black Mercedes, Princess Charlene and Prince Albert were warmly greeted by the Prefect of the Pontifical House, Georg Ganswein and members of the chapel.
Charlene shook the chaplain’s hand and graciously bowed her head while Albert, dressed smartly in a black suit, white shirt and silver tie looked on.
The royal couple then met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, before posing for a photograph with Pope Francis.
Princess Charlene was seen adjusting her collarless white coat before carefully exiting her black Mercedes
Princess Charlene was seen leaving her chauffeur-driven car and making her way into the audience with Pope Francis
Princess Charlene spent a moment appreciating the winter sun before heading into the official state meeting
The Zimbabwe-born former sports star kept the look elegant with a pair of leather gloves, a clutch bag and nude high heels
Prefect of the Pontifical House, Georg Ganswein, warmly shakes Charlene’s hand as she graciously bows her head
Princess Charlene and Prince Albert are greeted by Prefect of the Pontifical House, Georg Ganswein ahead of their meeting
After exiting their black Mercedes, Princess Charlene and Prince Albert were warmly greeted by the Prefect of the Pontifical House, Georg Ganswein and members of the chapel
Charlene was seen tenderly shaking and kissing the head of he Catholic church’s hand.
Charlene, who was born and raised Protestant, converted to Roman-Catholicism ‘of her own free will and choice’ in April 2011.
She said last summer that her decision was because she found strength in the religion and it was part of Grimaldi tradition.
‘Catholicism is the state religion [in Monaco]. But for me, it represents much more. The values of this religion profoundly touch me and correspond perfectly to my spirit,’ People reported.
Charlene’s first state visit to the Vatican was in January 2013 along with Prince Albert. The royal couple’s visit marked the 55th anniversary of the meeting of his parents, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco with Pope Pius XII in 1957.
Chalene said the ‘experience was extremely intense and moving for me’.
Something appeared to have made Princess Charlene and Prince Albert laugh as they headed to the meeting
Princess Charlene graciously bowed her head as she exited the vehicle and stepped into the sunlight
Princess Charlene looks serious as she is driven to the Apostolic Palace alongside her protection officers
Princess Charlene looks resplendent following her audience with Pope Francis, with her blonde hair just visible underneath the lace
Princess Charlene bowed her head and gave a glimpse of her bright blonde cropped hairdo, just visible underneath her lace mantilla
Princess Charlene and her husband Prince Albert are pictured in their black Mercedes car leaving the private audience
Just weeks later, the royal couple cut short a March visit to Palau in the South Pacific to attend the inaugural mass of Pope Francis. They both took communion from His Holiness on this occasion.
Charlene visited the country last in November 2015, a week after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. The princess, who gave birth to twins Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques in December 2014, took part in an annual conference of health workers during her visit.
During today’s visit Prince Albert was believed to have discussed and shared some organic farming tips with Pope Francis, according to People.
The prince, who has been all-praise for the pontiff’s call for environmental responsibility, is said to have shared photographs and information about the techniques used at his 125-acre summer residence Roc Agel, which is located high on the slopes of Mont Agel on the border between France and Monaco.
According to sources, Pope Francis is interested in implementing Albert’s ideas at the gardens of his summer residence, the Papal Palace in Castel Gandolfo, about 35km (22 miles) south-east of Rome.
Princess Charlene appears to smile at well-wishers from her car following the state visit with the pope
Charlene, who was born and raised Protestant, converted to Roman-Catholicism ‘of her own free will and choice’ in April 2011
Pope Francis is pictured leaving the Apostolic Palace after his audience with the Monaco royal couple