Pope Francis granted Queen Elizabeth II a private audience and presented her with a gift from her newest great-grandson, Prince George.
The British monarch and the Holy Father talked for about 30 minutes in what was described as an “informal meeting.”
Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh were in Italy for merely five-hours and also met with the Italian Prime Minister to discuss several issues of common concern.
As the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth — which includes 16 sovereign states — Queen Elizabeth has made five previous trips to meet with a Pope, however, this was not a formal visit.
Normally, any head of state visiting Pope Francis would be taken to the Apostolic Palace, but on this occasion — by mutual accord — the meeting was more “relaxed” and Queen Elizabeth paid her respects at the pope’s study inside the Paul VI Hall, close to his living quarters.
Pope Francis and Queen Elizabeth, together, are leaders of several billion people, says Italian author Barbara Serra:
“If you think about it in terms of soft power then we’re talking about 3 billion people because the pope is the spiritual head of more than 1 billion Catholics around the world, and the queen of course is head of the Commonwealth and that’s 2 billion people.”
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) April 3, 2014
Britain's Queen Elizabeth presents Pope Francis with a hamper of gifts pic.twitter.com/mMlAnBhrkY
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) April 3, 2014
— Catholic News Svc (@CatholicNewsSvc) April 3, 2014
3rd Apr – Pope Francis met with Queen Elizabeth II &Prince Philip, at the Vatican, in first overseas trip in 3 years. pic.twitter.com/CZIfaI93UT
— RC Servants of God (@RCServantsofGod) April 3, 2014
The only ones present during the meeting were Pope Francis, Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh, and a translator, as His Holiness only speaks little English.
Pope Francis had a special gift for Kate Middleton and Prince William’s son, Prince George. Queen Elizabeth was presented with a precious stone globe with a cross on it.
For the Queen, Pope Francis had a 1679 antique parchment, which includes an “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) message from Cardinal Cesare Facchinetti.
As to Queen Elizabeth, she presented Pope Francis with, what was described by the Vatican as “jams and drinks” produced on the many lands under the ownership of the British royal family. The gifts also included a bottle of whiskey.