Privilège du blanc

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Queen Elena of Italy and Crown Princess Marie José wearing white garments in the presence of Pope Pius XII at the Quirinale Palace on 28 December 1939.

Le privilège du blanc ("the 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 il 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.

A Catholic princess or queen retains the privilege at the discretion of the Pope, by which she remains a Catholic in good public standing; or married to another Catholic monarch, or simply granted by the Pope at his dispensation. A Catholic royal may also choose to freely exercise the privilege depending on the importance of occasion, and does not negate her privilege should she choose to wear black at certain points of Papal audiences.

History[edit]

Protocol for papal audiences formerly required that women 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.

Current eligibility[edit]

As of 2015, the following women are eligible for the privilege:

The Princess of Naples, Marina of the House of Savoy and wife of Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, 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, Charlene, Princess of Monaco, wife of a Catholic monarch, also used her privilege 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] 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. However she did use the the privilege again on 18 January, 2016 when visiting Pope Francis as part of an official state visit to the Vatican with her husband, Albert II, Prince of Monaco.[7]

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 wife of the King of Lesotho, or to the wife of the Prince of Liechtenstein, nor (until 2013) was it accorded to the wife of the Prince of Monaco. The privilege is also not accorded to Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, who is the Catholic wife of the Protestant King Willem-Alexander.

Cherie Blair, wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was critised by the right wing press in 2006 for wearing white when visiting Pope Benedict XVI on 28 April 2006. [8] In fact, she had been invited to speak to a Vatican conference as an expert advisor on children and youth. Pope Benedict, hearing she was at the Vatican requested she meet with him, only giving her a few minutes notice and forcing her to rush in her day clothes to accommodate the Pope's request. [9]

Occasions used[edit]

The privilège du blanc is not used for every meeting with the Pope, but most often only reserved for the most important occasions at the Vatican and remains at the discretion to follow by the royal person, sometimes through invitation by the Prefect of Pontifical Household. The privilege, however is retained at the dispensation of the Pope.

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

Date Queen/Princess Pontiff Notes
2016 January 18 Charlene, Princess of Monaco Francis State Visit to the Vatican
2015 March 9 Queen Mathilde of Belgium Francis Private audience
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 [10]
2013 March 19 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg Francis Inaugural mass of Pope Francis [11]
2013 January 12 Charlene, Princess of Monaco Benedict XVI Private audience [12]
2011 May 11 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg Benedict XVI Beatification of Pope John Paul II [13]
2011 May 11 Queen Paola of Belgium Benedict XVI Beatification of Pope John Paul II [14]
2009 October 10 Queen Paola of Belgium Benedict XVI Private audience [15][16][17]
2006 May 8 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg Benedict XVI Private audience [16][17]
2005 April 24 Queen Sofia of Spain Benedict XVI Inaugural mass of Pope Benedict XVI [16][17]
2005 April 24 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg Benedict XVI Inaugural mass of Pope Benedict XVI [16][17]
2004 October 3 Queen Fabiola of Belgium John Paul II Beatification of Charles I of Austria [18]
2003 May 18 Marina, Princess of Naples John Paul II Birthday of Pope John Paul II [5][19]
2003 March 23 Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg John Paul II Private audience [20]
1998 May 15 Queen Paola of Belgium John Paul II Private audience [16]
1981 April 30 Queen Sofia of Spain John Paul II Private audience [17]
1978 October 22 Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg John Paul II Inaugural mass of Pope John Paul II [17]
1978 October 22 Queen Sofia of Spain John Paul II Inaugural mass of Pope John Paul II [17]
1978 September 3 Queen Fabiola of Belgium John Paul I Inaugural mass of Pope John Paul I [17]
1978 September 3 Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg John Paul I Inaugural mass of Pope John Paul I [17][21]
1978 September 3 Queen Sofia of Spain John Paul I Inaugural mass of Pope John Paul I [17]
1977 February 10 Queen Sofia of Spain Paul VI Private audience [17]
1965 May 6 Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg Paul VI Private audience [22][23]
1961 June 8 Queen Fabiola of Belgium John XXIII Private audience [17][24][25]
1939 December 28 Queen Elena of Italy Pius XII Reception at Palazzo Quirinale [26]
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 Princess Marie José 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 [17][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. ^ "His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Holds an Audience with TSHs Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco. (VIDEO)". The Royal Correspondent. 
  7. ^ "Is this the world's most exclusive club? Princess Charlene of Monaco visits the Vatican in an all-white outfit". Mail Online. 
  8. ^ "White outfit, wrong occasion, Cherie". Telegraph Online. 
  9. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2006/apr/28/politicalnews.uk
  10. ^ "monarchico: Reali del Belgio dal Papa Francesco". monarchico.blogspot.ca. 
  11. ^ "monarchico: Reali del Lussemburgo da papa Francesco". monarchico.blogspot.ca. 
  12. ^ "Sporty Princess Charlene praised by Pope Benedict XVI on Vatican visit", Hello Magazine.
  13. ^ Ella Kay. "The Royal Roundup". royalroundup.com. 
  14. ^ Ella Kay. "The Royal Roundup". royalroundup.com. 
  15. ^ "King Albert II Photos - The Pope Meets With Belgian Royal Family - Zimbio". Zimbio. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Mantilla With Me. "Catholic Mantilla - Will You Mantilla With Me?: Politicos and Popes: Mantilla Action in the Vatican". mantillawithme.blogspot.ca. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Princeps Fidelissimus. "Noble y Real". nobleyreal.blogspot.ca. 
  18. ^ Photonews. "Pope Jean-Paul II and queen Fabiola of Belgium.". Getty Images. 
  19. ^ "The Glittering Casa Savoia".
  20. ^ "Luxembourg's royal family visits the Pope", Hello Magazine.
  21. ^ Photo with Pope John Paul I
  22. ^ Sydney Luxarazzi. "Luxarazzi : Luxarazzi 101: The Grand Ducal Family at the Vatican". lux-arazzi.blogspot.ca. 
  23. ^ "Catholic Northwest Progress May 14, 1965 Page 1". stparchive.com. 
  24. ^ "Privilege for Fabiola", New York Times (June 10, 1961), 10.
  25. ^ Photo with Pope John XIII
  26. ^ a b http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/speeches/1939/index_en.htm
  27. ^ "The privilège du blanc and God’s love for inequality". Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites. 
  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 - Ufficio Comunicazioni Sociali della Diocesi di Roma. "RomaSette - Il 14 novembre la visita di Francesco al Quirinale - Papa Francesco - News - Diocesi di Roma". romasette.it. 
  31. ^ "Alfonso Received in Papal Splendor", New York Times (November 20, 1923), 7.
  32. ^ "Los Primos Hermanos del Rey".

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