Princess Mary dons a black veil to meet the Pope at the Vatican

Sarah Carty
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer


Princess Mary has followed in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana by donning a black veil to meet the Pope at the Vatican.

The 46-year-old, who travelled to Italy with her husband, Prince Frederik, to have a meeting with the pontiff, kept with tradition by wearing an all-black outfit, which included a lace veil, a black high-necked dress, a black coat, black tights and pair of black heels.

However, while the future Queen of Denmark covered up nearly her whole body for the holy occasion, her husband wasn’t required to do the same.

Prince Frederik looked dapper in a navy suit, navy tie and white shirt – a stark contrast to Princess Mary’s dramatic look.

Princess Mary has followed in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana by donning a black veil to meet the Pope at the Vatican with Prince Frederik. Photo: Getty Images
Prince Frederik looked dapper in a navy suit, navy tie and white shirt – a stark contrast to Princess Mary’s dramatic look. Photo: Getty Images

Vatican dress code

Historically, the Vatican demanded women wear an all-black, long-sleeved, ensemble when they were invited to meet the Pope.

That included a black veil and clothing which covered their shoulders, knees and cleavage.

An exception to the rule was called the “privilège du blanc,” or “privilege of the white,” which was given to certain Queens or princesses, who could wear white while meeting the Pope, if they desired.

Princess Charlene of Monaco decided to avail of the offer in 2016, when she wore a white lace veil, white gloves and a white coat at the Vatican.

Queen Sofia of Spain wore a white outfit in 2014 and Queen Mathilde of Belgium donned a white traditional ensemble in 2015.

Princess Charlene of Monaco decided to avail of “privilège du blanc” rule in 2016, when she wore a white lace veil, white gloves and a white coat at the Vatican. Photo: Getty Images

UK royals wore black

However, photos from over the years show UK royals like Princess Diana, Camilla Parker Bowles and the Queen decided to embrace the traditional etiquette rules.

Despite meeting the Pope on numerous occasions, the Queen was only snapped ignoring the all-black rule during her latest visit to the Vatican in 2014, which saw her don a light purple skirt and jacket, as she chatted with Pope Francis.

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, was pictured meeting the Pope last year at the Vatican wearing a light cream coat and a scarf around her neck.

However, back in 2009, she donned a black lace veil and a long black dress.

Men meanwhile have always only been required to don long trousers, a shirt and a jacket, and were told to take off their hat before entering the room.

Despite meeting the Pope on numerous occasions, the Queen was only snapped ignoring the all-black rule during her latest visit to the Vatican in 2014, which saw her don a light purple skirt and jacket, as she chatted with Pope Francis. Photo: Getty Images
Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, was pictured meeting the Pope last year at the Vatican wearing a light cream coat and a scarf around her neck. However, back in 2009, she donned a black lace veil and a long black dress. Photo: Getty Images
Princess Diana was snapped respecting the traditional Vatican dress code when she met the Pope. Photo: Getty Images

Pope Francis relaxes the rules

However, under Pope Francis, the dress code has been relaxed somewhat.

Now, a modest dress code is accepted when meeting the Pope, which includes trousers or a long dress for women, with knees and shoulders still covered.

“Things have become more relaxed over the last few years there are no hard and fast rules,” a spokesperson for the Vatican told The Telegraph.

Despite this, many royals and dignitaries still stick with tradition and wear veils and black coats at the Vatican.

Last year, Melania and Ivanka Trump made headlines all over the world when they decided to respect Vatican dress code but refused to wear a headscarf in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Getty Images
The Canadian Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire, also met the pontiff last year, however instead of donning a black veil, she wore a black hat and a black dress. Photo: Getty Images

Last year, Melania and Ivanka Trump made headlines all over the world when they decided to respect Vatican dress code but refused to wear a headscarf in Saudi Arabia.

The Canadian Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire, also met the pontiff last year, however instead of donning a black veil, she wore a black hat and a black dress.

With the rules not set in stone, it’s no wonder Princess Mary decided to err on the side of caution and don all-black, for fear of offending anyone.

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