Queen Elizabeth II visited Pope Francis at the Vatican today. The Pope received the queen by saying, “Welcome” in English.
The queen made the visit with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. The royal couple arrived some 20 minutes late for their Vatican appointment, apologizing to the Pope and saying, “Sorry to keep you waiting, we were having a very pleasant lunch with the President [Napolitano].”
The royal couple and the Holy Father exchanged an assortment of gifts in their brief, 17-minute, informal meeting. A translator was also present.
The mood was described by observers as genial and cordial. Due to the informal nature of the event, it took place in a small studio in Paul VI Hall.
The queen kept with tradition in giving the Pope a framed, signed photograph of herself.
She added, “I am afraid you have to have a photograph. It’s inevitable.”
Pope Francis presented Queen Elizabeth II with a gift for her great-grandson, 8-moth-old Prince George of Cambridge. He said in Spanish: “It’s for the little boy.” It was an orb, representing the world, with a silver cross of St. Edward on top.
She said, “That is very nice. He’ll be thrilled for that … when he is a little older.”
Also, the Holy Father presented to Her Majesty a copy of the Decree of Saint Edward the Confessor, King of England, who was crowned king in 1043, died in 1066, and was canonized by Pope Alessandro III in 1161 with the title of “Confessor.”
The duke cracked a joke: “Oh, he was canonized, was he?”
The queen noted her appreciation for the gift, and said, “I have also brought something from all our estates which is for you personally.”
Her gift to Francis was a little chest of typical English goods from her various estates, including Buckingham Palace, Sandringham in Norfok, Windsor Castle, and Castle of Balmarol, as well as from the posh shop of Fortnum and Mason, which she had visited with Princess Kate. Items inside it ranged from honey and eggs to whisky and haunch of venison.
The queen quipped when she gave the Pontiff honey from the garden of Buckingham Palace: “Honey from my garden. I hope that will be unusual for you.”
The Duke elicited a reaction from the Pope when he lifted up the bottle of whisky.
Pope Francis also gifted three papal medals to the Duke of Edinburgh, gold, silver, and bronze. (D.C.L.)