The Queen met Pope Francis for the first time on Thursday afternoon at the Vatican during the Queen’s one day visit to Rome.
— British Royals (@britishroyals) April 3, 2014
The Queen and the Pope spoke together in private for 17 minutes, and the meeting was just under 30 minutes in total. On arrival, the monarch apologised for being 20 minutes late due to being delayed at her luncheon.
This is the first visit abroad Her Majesty has made since a trip to Australia in 2011. This is her fifth visit to the Vatican, but first meeting with Pope Francis who was newly appointed last year.
Earlier on in the day, the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh had lunch with the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano, and his wife, Clio, at the Quirinal Palace.
As conventions change with the times, The Queen was wearing a lavender coat and a tall brimmed Easter purple hat with flowers rather than the traditional wearing of black and a veil. Her diamond and sapphire brooch was purchased by Queen Mary in 1934, and was then owned by the Queen Mother. Notably, unlike on previous visits, the Queen did not remove her gloves when shaking the Pope’s hand, something she has done with all previous Pontiffs.
Her Majesty presented the Pope with framed photos of herself and The Duke of Edinburgh alongside a hamper of royal estate products. Royal Central has learnt that items inside the hamper include 12 eggs, Welsh rarebit smakerals and a rib of beef.In return, the Pope gifted Prince George with an orb of lapis lazuli with the Cross of St Edward the Confessor. The orb is an emblem of royal power which the ancient Romans used to represent the universe, before it was modified by Christians
The Pontiff gave Her Majesty a copy of the Edward the Confessor decree upon meeting today. Prince Philip was given some papal medals. Upon receiving them, he remarked, “it’s the only gold medal I have ever won”.
The visit coincides with the 32nd anniversary of the Falklands war, a topic not expected to be discussed. The Pope, who is Argentinian, has previously described the islands as “ours”.
The Queen has previously visited the Vatican three times during her reign; once to meet John XXIII in 1961, and in 1980 and 2000 to see John Paul II. She has also visited the Vatican before becoming monarch to meet Pope Pius XII.