Pope Francis And Queen Elizabeth Meet At The Vatican, And The Pope Had A Pretty Sweet Gift For Prince George
One week after President Obama and Pope Francis met for a one-on-one at the Vatican's Papal Library, Queen Elizabeth of England showed up at the Vatican to meet the Pope. The queen, who hadn't met Pope Francis before, arrived with husband Prince Philip. All three attended a lunch arranged by President Giorgio Napolitano, who originally had invited the queen to Italy. After the lunch, the Pope and the Queen had a 30-minute meeting in the papal study.
Queen Elizabeth had originally planned to visit Italy in 2013 after an invitation from Napolitano, but became ill. Her meeting with Pope Francis marks her seventh meeting with a pope. Francis gave her a noteworthy gift for her eight-month-old great-grandson Prince George: a blue orb made out of stone, with a silver cross on top. The orb was set on a silver base, which was inscribed: "Pope Francis to His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge."
Queen Elizabeth's response: "That's very nice, he will be thrilled." Then, as an afterthought, "When he's a little older."
In return, Queen Elizabeth and her husband presented Pope Francis with a large gift basket of food and drink, including honey made in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. Oh, and a bottle of malt whiskey.
But this meeting was more than a meeting between two powerful figures and a luxurious exchange of gifts: It signifies another event in the historical relationship between Great Britain and the Vatican. Centuries ago, King Henry VIII of England famously defied the papacy by establishing the Church of England, which then spurred the Reformation.
Relations between the Vatican and Great Britain have certainly improved a great deal since, but nonetheless, Queen Elizabeth's effort to strengthen the ties between her monarchy and the Vatican have been particularly noteworthy in comparison to other English monarchs.