REPOST: Princess Charlene Makes History at the Vatican

I don’t want to alarm anyone but I have big news.

At least it’s big news for my part of the world, that strange, shadowy realm inhabited by royalists, ritualists, Roman Catholics and the odd gremlin or two.

The privilege du blanc has been extended to the HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco. I know, right!? Who saw that coming!?

Princess Charlene of Monaco, January 12, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Princess Charlene of Monaco, January 12, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Ok, let me fill you in.

At all official audiences with the pope, all women are expected to wear black. The privilege du blanc, which means “privilege of the white” is – believe it or not – the privilege to wear white instead. According to Vatican tradition, it is only granted to Catholic queens and grand duchesses.

You are supposed to wear black even if you are a monarch, like Queen Elizabeth II.

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth & Pope John Paul II at the Vatican

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth & Pope John Paul II at the Vatican

Even if you are the daughter of Catholic monarch, like Infanta Cristina of Spain.

Pope Benedict XVI and Infanta Dona Cristina of Spain, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI and Infanta Dona Cristina of Spain, 2008

And even if you are the wife of the most powerful man in the world.

Michelle and Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI

Michelle and Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI

Those who don’t wear black, those with the privilege du blanc, form a very exclusive club. There used to be more royal women who were eligible, like the princesses of Italy and and grand duchess of Austria-Hungary and the queens of former Catholic monarchies like Portugal, France, Bavaria etc)

Nowadays, there only three women with the privilege: Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Paola of Belgium and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg.

And now, Princess Charlene has rocked up to the Vatican in white.

The privilege never belonged to Monaco in the past. When Charlene’s mother-in-law, the always elegant Princess Grace went to the Vatican, she wore black. (And oh, did she wear it well!)

Princess Grace at the Vatican, 1957

Princess Grace at the Vatican, 1957

The Vatican has confirmed that the privilege has been granted to Princess Charlene. According to the Vatican Press Office, ”… in accordance with prescribed ceremonial of the Vatican for Catholic sovereigns, the princess was allowed to dress in white…”

I wonder whose initiative it was. Did Charlene have her heart set on a white dress? Did some Vatican functionary decide to “democratise” the privilege?

Either way, it will give our Catholic queens (and Grand Duchess) something to chat about at the next Vatican do!

L to R: Grand Duchess Maria Teresa & Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Queen Sofa & King Juan Carlos of Spain

L to R: Grand Duchess Maria Teresa & Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Queen Sofa & King Juan Carlos of Spain at Pope Benedict’s First Mass, 2005

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8 responses to “REPOST: Princess Charlene Makes History at the Vatican

  1. Pingback: Luxembourg Royals at Vatican and a Whole Lotta Lace | CATHOLIC CRAVINGS·

  2. Thanks for this info! I heard about the whole privilege du blanc for the first time when Charlene visited Vatican in January. And only now, when reading your blog, I really understood what it meant. 🙂

    • My pleasure! I’m so glad to hear you found it interesting. It’s lovely feedback! You have a lovely blog and I’ve just starting following it. 🙂 Looking forward to more lovely royal pictures!

      • Thank you for your kind words. And welcome to my blog! 🙂 I’ll be coming back to yours too, it’s interesting to read about the royals from a bit different perspective.

  3. It was said that when the then first lady of the Philippines, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, had an audience with Pope Paul VI, she came with her retinue all dressed in white Filipiniana national gowns and lace veils.

    You have such a great blog!! Keep those posts coming!!! 🙂 God bless you!!

  4. Pingback: Should I Veil? A Debate Between Me & My Brain | Catholic Cravings·

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