Privilège du blanc

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Elena of Montenegro and Marie José of Belgium, queen and crown princess of Italy respectively, wearing white in the presence of Pope Pius XII at the Quirinale Palace on 28 December 1939

Privilège du blanc ("privilege of the white") is a French term used for a tradition whereby certain designated Catholic queens and princesses are permitted to wear a white dress and white mantilla during an audience with the Pope.[1] The Italian term is privilegio del bianco.

The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household sometimes issues special instructions when the privilege may be used, such as during papal audiences or masses at the beginning of a pope's reign.

History[edit]

Vatican protocol for papal audiences formerly required that ladies wear a long black dress with a high collar and long sleeves, and a black mantilla.[2][3]

Certain Catholic queens and princesses have traditionally been exempted from wearing black. The Queens of Italy, Belgium, and Spain, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, and the princesses of the House of Savoy have been permitted to wear a white dress and white mantilla for a papal audience.

The privilege is not accorded to the wives of all Catholic monarchs or to the wives of non-Catholic monarchs. Even though they are Catholics, it is not accorded to the wife of the King of Lesotho or the wife of the Prince of Liechtenstein, nor (until 2013) to the wife of the Prince of Monaco. The privilege is not accorded to Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the Catholic wife of a Protestant monarch.

Current eligibility[edit]

As of 2014, the following ladies are eligible for the privilege:

Marina, Princess of Naples, wife of Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, Head of the House of Savoy, used the privilege on 18 May 2003 during the Mass for the birthday of Pope John Paul II, as a princess of the House of Savoy.[5]

On 12 January 2013, Princess Charlene of Monaco wore white in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy See Press Office later issued a press release stating that, "in accordance with prescribed ceremonial of the Vatican for Catholic sovereigns, the princess was allowed to dress in white."[6][7] Princess Charlene did not wear white garments for the 2013 inaugural Mass of Pope Francis, nor did she wear white for the 2014 canonization Mass of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

Occasions used[edit]

The privilège du blanc is not used for every meeting with the Pope, but only for the most important occasions at the Vatican.

Among the occasions when the privilège du blanc has been used are the following:

Date Queen/Princess Pontiff Notes
2014 June 30 Queen Letizia of Spain Francis Private audience
2014 April 27 Queen Sofia of Spain Francis Canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II
2014 April 27 Queen Paola of Belgium Francis Canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II
2014 April 27 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg Francis Canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II
2013 March 19 Queen Paola of Belgium Francis Inaugural mass of Pope Francis [8]
2013 March 19 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg Francis Inaugural mass of Pope Francis [9]
2013 January 12 Princess Charlene of Monaco Benedict XVI Private audience [10]
2011 May 11 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg Benedict XVI Beatification of Pope John Paul II [11]
2011 May 11 Queen Paola of Belgium Benedict XVI Beatification of Pope John Paul II [12]
2009 October 10 Queen Paola of Belgium Benedict XVI Private audience [13][14][15]
2006 May 8 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg Benedict XVI Private audience [14][15]
2005 April 24 Queen Sofia of Spain Benedict XVI Inaugural mass of Pope Benedict XVI [14][15]
2005 April 24 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg Benedict XVI Inaugural mass of Pope Benedict XVI [14][15]
2004 October 3 Queen Fabiola of Belgium John Paul II Beatification of Charles I of Austria [16]
2003 May 18 Marina, Princess of Naples John Paul II Birthday of Pope John Paul II [5][17]
2003 March 23 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg [18] John Paul II Private audience [19]
1998 May 15 Queen Paola of Belgium John Paul II Private audience [14]
1981 April 30 Queen Sofia of Spain John Paul II Private audience [15]
1978 October 22 Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg John Paul II Inaugural mass of Pope John Paul II [15]
1978 October 22 Queen Sofia of Spain John Paul II Inaugural mass of Pope John Paul II [15]
1978 September 3 Queen Fabiola of Belgium John Paul I Inaugural mass of Pope John Paul I [15]
1978 September 3 Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg John Paul I Inaugural mass of Pope John Paul I [15][20]
1978 September 3 Queen Sofia of Spain John Paul I Inaugural mass of Pope John Paul I [15]
1977 10 February Queen Sofia of Spain Paul VI Private audience [15]
1965 May 6 Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg Paul VI Private audience [21][22]
1961 June 8 Queen Fabiola of Belgium John XXIII Private audience [15][23][24]
1939 December 28 Queen Elena of Italy Pius XII Reception at Palazzo Quirinale [25]
1939 December 28 Marie José, Princess of Piedmont Pius XII Reception at Palazzo Quirinale [26]
1939 January 23 Princess Maria of Savoy Pius XI Private audience after wedding
1930 January 8 Marie José, Princess of Piedmont Pius XI Private audience after wedding
1929 December 28 Queen Elena of Italy Pius XI Reception at Palazzo Quirinale [27]
1929 December 7 Princess Giovanna of Savoy Pius XI Private audience [28]
1929 December 7 Princess Maria of Savoy Pius XI Private audience [28]
1929 December 5 Queen Elena of Italy Pius XI Private audience [15][29]
1929 June 7 Queen Elena of Italy Pius XI Private audience [30]
1923 November 19 Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain Pius XI Private audience [31][32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ James-Charles Noonan, Jr., The Church Visible: The Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church (New York: Viking, 1996), 411.
  2. ^ George Seldes, The Vatican: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1934), 125.
  3. ^ Fabio Cassani Pironti, Ordini in ordine: manuale d'uso decorazioni per il corpo diplomatico accreditato presso la Santa Sede, il Sovrano militare Ordine di Malta ed i rispettivi dignitari (Roma: Laurus Robuffo, 2004), 42 and 87.
  4. ^ "King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain visit the Pope in first overseas engagement". Hello Magazine. 
  5. ^ a b "Marina in San Pietro con tailleur bianco", Corriere della Sera (19 maggio 2003).
  6. ^ Royal Correspondent
  7. ^ Pope Benedict and Prince Albert II
  8. ^ "Reali del Belgio dal Papa Francesco".
  9. ^ "Reali del Lussemburgo da papa Francesco".
  10. ^ "Sporty Princess Charlene praised by Pope Benedict XVI on Vatican visit", Hello Magazine.
  11. ^ "Mad Hattery".
  12. ^ "Mad Hattery".
  13. ^ "The Pope Meets with Belgian Royal Family".
  14. ^ a b c d e "Politicos and Popes: Mantilla Action in the Vatican".
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Privilège du blanc".
  16. ^ Getty Images.
  17. ^ "The Glittering Casa Savoia".
  18. ^ Her twelve-year old daughter Princess Alexandra also wore white; Alexandra did not wear white for the 2006 private audience.
  19. ^ "Luxembourg's royal family visits the Pope", Hello Magazine.
  20. ^ Photo with Pope John Paul I
  21. ^ "Luxarazzi 101: The Grand Ducal Family at the Vatican".
  22. ^ Archive
  23. ^ "Privilege for Fabiola", New York Times (June 10, 1961), 10.
  24. ^ Photo with Pope John XIII
  25. ^ Vatican.va
  26. ^ Vatican.va
  27. ^ "The privilège du blanc and God’s love for inequality".
  28. ^ a b "Prince and Sisters Pay Visit to Pope", New York Times (December 8, 1929), 5.
  29. ^ "Italy's Sovereigns Make First Visit to Pope", New York Times (December 6, 1929), 1.
  30. ^ Romasette
  31. ^ "Alfonso Received in Papal Splendor", New York Times (November 20, 1923), 7.
  32. ^ "Los Primos Hermanos del Rey".