(Vatican Radio) Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will meet with Pope Francis at a private
audience in the Vatican on Thursday afternoon. The Queen, who’ll be accompanied by
her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will also have a private encounter
with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano during the one day visit to Rome.
The audience with Pope Francis will mark the 87-year-old Queen’s fifth encounter with a Roman pontiff here in the Vatican, beginning with Pope Pius XII whom she met in 1951, the year before her accession to the throne. In 1982 she became the first monarch since the Reformation to welcome a pope to Britain during John Paul II’s pastoral visit to the country and in 2010 she also hosted Pope Benedict XVI on his state visit to the United Kingdom.
To find out more details about this brief visit to the Vatican, Philippa Hitchen spoke to Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Baker:
The Queen was due to come to Rome in 2013 at the private invitation of President Napolitano of Italy...but had been unable to come because of ill health...she doesn't like leaving obligations unfulfilled so she was determined to reinstate that visit....it is normal when the Queen comes to Rome that she would visit the Pope so we're delighted that the Queen and Pope Francis will have that chance to get together.....
The encounter itself will be private but it is still an officially recognised visit.....it will be a public event in terms of arrival and departure....
This will be I think the 7th time she's met a pope and the 5th different pope she'll have met.....these meetings help to strenthen the relationship, they help to provide milestones in a sense and if you look back in terms of the Queen's reign, it is extraordinary how far relations between Britain and the Holy See, and between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church has developed since 1952 when she became Queen...
We have a new Archbishop of Canterbury who met Pope Francis last year in June and I very much expect him to meet the Pope again in the next few months....she will want I think to understand from Pope Francis how he sees the role of faith in the world...."