Vatican City, 5 February 2014 (VIS) – On 3 April Pope Francis will receive in audience Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This was made public by Buckingham Palace and confirmed yesterday afternoon by the Holy See Press Office.
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Prince Philip of Edinburgh, will be in Rome upon invitation by the president of the Republic of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano. The Queen and Prince Philip will lunch in private with President Napolitano, and will then be received in audience by the Pope. It will be the first encounter between Pope Francis and the Queen, as at the Holy Mass at the beginning of his pontificate the United Kingdom was represented by Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. President Napolitano's invitation was first presented last year, but neither the Queen nor Prince Philip were able to accept for reasons of ill health. Since then, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy and Pope Francis was elected.
The Italian Head of State renewed his invitation earlier this year and Queen Elizabeth decided to take the opportunity to meet with the new Pontiff. The same occurred on her last visit to Rome, in 2000, when she was received by Blessed John Paul II. The Queen met with Benedict XVI during his apostolic visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010.