Audience (meeting)

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This article is about meeting a head of state. For other uses, see Audience (disambiguation).
Audience of the French diplomat le Vicomte d'Andrezel with the Sultan Selim III on 10 October 1724 in the Topkapı Palace.

An audience is a formal meeting that takes place between a head of state and another person at the invitation of the head of state. Often, the invitation follows a request for a meeting from the other person. Though sometimes used in republics to describe meetings with presidents, the term is more usually associated with monarchs and popes.

Papal audiences[edit]

In the past, rigid dress codes had to be followed by those granted a papal audience. Although no longer mandatory, the traditional dress code is quite strict. For a general audience; smart business professional attire (i.e. a suit and tie or equivalent for ladies) is acceptable. The suit should be dark and ladies should ideally not wear slacks anywhere in the Vatican. Private audiences however, are a much more formal affair. Ladies should wear a long (well below the knees) dress. It should be black, with a matching hat or other head covering and veil. Exceptions are made for Catholic Queens and Queen Consorts who by dispensation may wear white (Privilège du blanc). Gentlemen should wear a correct morning suit, either black or very dark gray with the traditional striped trousers, patent leather shoes and cutaway. An ascot or equivalent formal tie should be worn with a gray waistcoat over a white dress shirt with arrow collars. If any part of the audience may occur out of doors a black top hat should be worn. If the function is entirely indoors then the hat is optional for men. Both gentlemen and ladies should wear dress gloves as one does not enter The Presence with bare hands. Evening functions were usually White Tie.

Formal dress is now normally reserved for diplomatic audiences. In the 1990s, a Roman Catholic priest in Ireland provoked a controversy by claiming that then-President of Ireland Mary Robinson had breached protocol by wearing jewellery and by not wearing black nor a mantilla for an audience with Pope John Paul II. The Vatican subsequently pointed out that the traditional form of dress worn for papal audiences was no longer obligatory.

Modern popes grant large audiences to crowds in St. Peter's Square or the Paul VI Audience Hall.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, Audiences with the British monarch are usually listed in the Court Circular, which is published daily by the broadsheet press. The British Prime Minister has a weekly audience with Elizabeth II, usually every Wednesday [1] during parliamentary time at Buckingham Palace.


In the Kingdom of Denmark, public audiences with the Danish monarch usually take place every second Monday at Christiansborg Palace. An invitation is not required for the public audiences. Private audiences of the Monarch with heads of state, heads of government, parliamentary delegations, leaders of international organisations and military leaders are usually held at the residence palace of the Monarch at Amalienborg Palace.[2]