Princess Charlene Wears Black for Meeting with Pope Francis Despite Being Permitted to Wear White

The royal is one of only seven women permitted to wear the color white while meeting the Pope

Prince Albert II And Princess Charlene Of Monaco meet Pope Francis
Prince Albert, Pope Francis and Princess Charlene. Photo: Vatican Media/CPP/IPA/INSTARimages

Princess Charlene and Prince Albert of Monaco traveled to the Vatican for a private meeting with Pope Francis — and while Charlene's black ensemble followed tradition, it was a break from her outfit choices during past visits.

On Wednesday, the royal couple met with the leader of the Catholic church in the Apostolic Library. During their 25-minute visit, they exchanged gifts: Pope Francis presented the pair with a bronze depiction of a child helping another child get up from the ground with the words "love" and "help" etched on the figures' sides.

Prince Albert, 64, gifted the Pope with an artistic sketch of the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, located in the Royal Palace of Monaco.

Princess Charlene
Prince Albert and Princess Charlene. TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty

Princess Charlene, 44, wore a black dress with a bateau neckline and a rosary bead necklace along with a black lace veil, called a mantilla, for the occasion. The ensemble resembled those worn by other well-known women during their visits with the Pope, including First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in Oct. 2021 and former First Lady Melania Trump in May 2017.

However, in the past, Princess Charlene has opted to wear white clothing for her meetings with the Pope. In fact, she's one of just seven women given "the privilege of the white." Called "le privil ge du blanc" in French or "il privilegio del biacno" in Italian, the special tradition is extended solely to designated Catholic queens and princesses and is usually reserved for important events at the Vatican — such as private audiences, canonizations, beatifications and special masses.

Princess Charlene
Princess Charlene. TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty

The small group of women who have the privilege of the white includes Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Paola of Belgium, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Queen Letizia of Spain, Princess Marina of Naples and Princess Charlene.

Princess Charlene wore white to two previous meetings at the Vatican: during an audience with Pope Benedict XVI in 2013 and with Pope Francis previously in 2016.

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Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Prince Albert II of Monaco, Princess Charlene of Monaco
Prince Albert, Pope Francis and Princess Charlene in 2016. Vatican Pool/Getty

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene also attended the Inauguration Mass of Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square in 2013, when Charlene went with a black ensemble and matching headpiece.

The Monegasque royals have regularly visited Vatican City. Prince Albert's parents, Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace were received by Pope Pius XII in 1957, John XXIII in 1959 and Paul VI in 1974. In 2005, Prince Albert's first public appearance as sovereign outside Monaco was his attendance at the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

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