Princess Charlene of Monaco, 37, her husband Prince Albert, 57 visited the Vatican at the Apostolic Palace preceding 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.
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 it’s usually reserved for important events at the Vatican such as private audiences, canonizations, 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.
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.
The attire chosen by Charlene for her state visit is of great importance.
Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel of Savoy, his wife Princess Marina of Naples and their son Emanuele Filiberto pray during a canonization ceremony held by Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Square in May 2003
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”.’
Photo Credit, dailymail