On Monday, The King and Queen of the Belgians had a private audience with the Pope in his private library at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.
Queen Mathilde was dressed in a white coat dress and a matching cream mantilla, to cover her head out of respect to Pope Francis. By doing so, The Queen was exercising her ‘privilège du blanc’ or ‘privilege of white’. Generally, protocol requires that ladies wear black dresses and mantillas while meeting the Pope. However, certain Catholic Queens are exempt from this tradition and may instead choose to wear white for an audience at the Vatican.
‘Privilège du blanc’ is extended to the Queens of Italy, Belgium and Spain, and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. In addition to Queen Mathilde, Queen Letizia of Spain and Princess Charlene of Monaco who have both worn white for recent meetings with the Pope.
During their meeting with Pope Francis, the royal couple exchanged gifts with the religious leader. In turn, they both received a gift wrapped rosary.
Queen Mathilde, who suffered a knee injury earlier this year, arrived for the meeting in a wheelchair, and she later relied on crutches to stand. However, despite her injury, The Queen is determined to carry out her scheduled engagements.
On the 25th of February, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde attended a meeting at the European Union Parliament in Brussels. Earlier this month, Mathilde carried out two solo engagements; she visited the City Hall in Haacht, and also took part in a conference on Ebola in the country’s capital.
Featured photo credit: Carolien Coenen