The Queen will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican today, the fifth time she will have been received by a pope in Rome.
Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were due to be received at 3pm Rome time (1pm GMT) during a trip described by one official as an “official, informal visit”. The audience will take place in the Pope’s study, rather than in the apostolic palace, at the request of both parties.
The Queen was originally due to visit Francis last year but the Palace postponed the trip for health reasons, and Her Majesty’s itinerary also includes a meeting with Italian president Giorgio Napolitano.
The Queen has visited three previous popes in Rome, first as Princess Elizabeth in 1951 when she was received by Pope Pius XII, by Blessed John XXIII in 1961 and by Blessed John Paul II in 1980 and 2000. She also met Blessed John Paul and Benedict XVI on their respective visits to Britain in 1982 and 2010.
This year marks the centenary of the re-opening of diplomatic relations between Britain and the Holy See.