Breaking tradition! Queen Mathilde of Belgium looks thoughtful in a white mantilla as she and King Phillipe travel to Vatican City to meet Pope Francis

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  • Queen Mathilde of Belgium and King Philippe travelled to Vatican City
  • READ MORE: The moments when we saw royals well-up

Queen Mathilde of Belgium looked elegant as she travelled to Vatican City alongside her husband King Philippe today.

The royal couple were welcomed upon their arrival for their private audience with Pope Francis 

The Queen, 50, wore a modest white dress for the occasion, which came to just below the knee. 

Queen Mathilde paired her conservative frock with a white mantilla, which she wore draped over her head. 

Black lace is customary when visiting the Pope, but only a handful of people are permitted to wear white around the religious figure when visiting the Vatican. 

King Philippe And Queen Mathilde of Belgium were welcomed upon their arrival for their private audience with Pope Francis

King Philippe And Queen Mathilde of Belgium were welcomed upon their arrival for their private audience with Pope Francis

Only seven women in the world are permitted to wear white in front of the Pope, these include Charlene, Princess of Monaco, Queen Letizia of Spain, Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Maria Teresa, The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. 

‘The privilege of the white’ also extends to Belgium’s Queen Paola and Princess Marina of Naples.

The privilege only extends to these royals because they are the seven Catholic Queens, Princesses and Duchesses. 

This meant that when Queen Camilla visited the Pope, she had to wear all-black, as she never converted to Roman Catholic, despite growing up in a Catholic household. Instead, she is an Anglican. 

Queen Mathilde’s frock was also long-sleeved, meaning it covered her shoulders and neck. 

The Vatican has a dress code – those visiting cannot wear low-cut or sleeveless dresses, miniskirts, shorts and hats. 

On their website it states: ‘The Vatican is an independent state in which the Roman Catholic Church is based and imposes its dress rules throughout the city.

‘The clothing required is modest and requires for respect of the sacredness of the institutions the coverage of certain areas of the body.’

Black lace is customary when visiting the Pope, but only a handful of people are permitted to wear white around the religious figure when visiting the Vatican

Black lace is customary when visiting the Pope, but only a handful of people are permitted to wear white around the religious figure when visiting the Vatican

The royal couple appeared in great spirits as they chatted with Pope Francis during the visit

The royal couple appeared in great spirits as they chatted with Pope Francis during the visit 

The Queen, 50, wore a modest white dress for the occasion, which came to just below the knee

The Queen, 50, wore a modest white dress for the occasion, which came to just below the knee

King Philippe And Queen Mathilde of Belgium leave the Apostolic Palace at the end of an audience with Pope Francis

King Philippe And Queen Mathilde of Belgium leave the Apostolic Palace at the end of an audience with Pope Francis

The Queen smiled as she exited the Apostolic Palace alongside her husband King Philippe

The Queen smiled as she exited the Apostolic Palace alongside her husband King Philippe

The royal couple beamed for a slew of snaps before meeting Pope Francis

The royal couple beamed for a slew of snaps before meeting Pope Francis 

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde posed for photos with the Pope and other offical's at the Apostolic Palace

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde posed for photos with the Pope and other offical’s at the Apostolic Palace

Queen Mathilde paired her conservative frock with a white mantilla, which she wore draped over her head

Queen Mathilde paired her conservative frock with a white mantilla, which she wore draped over her head

The Belgian royal is only one of seven royal women in the world allowed to wear white in front of the Pope

The Belgian royal is only one of seven royal women in the world allowed to wear white in front of the Pope 

The Vatican has a dress code - those visiting cannot wear low-cut or sleeveless dresses, miniskirts, shorts and hats

The Vatican has a dress code – those visiting cannot wear low-cut or sleeveless dresses, miniskirts, shorts and hats

Queen Mathilde's frock was also long-sleeved, meaning it covered her shoulders and neck

Queen Mathilde’s frock was also long-sleeved, meaning it covered her shoulders and neck

They also say that it is ‘absolutely forbidden’ to wear a top that shows your midriff. 

She paired the look with some beige kitten heels and a simple eggshell-coloured clutch bag. 

Her husband, King Philippe, 63, looked dapper in a black suit and polished shoes, with a blue patterned tie. 

They gathered outside St. Damaso courtyard, which is where the heads of state and government are welcomed. 

It is seen as an area where those who are having a private audience by the Pope are greeted by officials.  

Queen Mathilde of Belgium looked stylish as she stepped out on to the streets of Vatican City

Queen Mathilde of Belgium looked stylish as she stepped out on to the streets of Vatican City

She paired the look with some beige kitten heels and a simple eggshell-coloured clutch bag
She donned a belted white dress for the occasion, which was conservative

She donned a belted white dress for the occasion, which was conservative 

They gathered outside St. Damaso courtyard, which is where the heads of state and government are welcomed

They gathered outside St. Damaso courtyard, which is where the heads of state and government are welcomed

Black lace is customary when visiting the Pope, but only a handful of people are permitted to wear white around the religious figure

Black lace is customary when visiting the Pope, but only a handful of people are permitted to wear white around the religious figure

Queen Mathilde of Belgium smiled after her private audience with the Pope

Queen Mathilde of Belgium smiled after her private audience with the Pope 

Her modest frock was in keeping with the particular rules you must follow when visiting The Vatican

Her modest frock was in keeping with the particular rules you must follow when visiting The Vatican 

Visitors are required to wear ‘casual but modest dress’ to meet the Pope – but normal protocol calls for ladies to wear a long black dress with a high collar and long sleeves

While a mantilla is considered standard wear for women meeting the Pope, Catholic women often wear them for other religious occasions as well. 

The veil serves several purposes, including covering a woman’s physical beauty ‘so that the beauty of God may be glorified instead,’ according to Catholic Company.

It also serves to emulate Mary, ‘the archetype of purity and humility,’ and to show ‘reverence and piety while in the presence of God.’

Black lace is worn by married or widowed women, while unmarried women and young girls wear white lace.

Mantillas used to be required for women attending Mass; however, since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), they are just encouraged.

While black clothing and a veil are considered appropriate for women meeting the Pope, the official dress code for a papal audience is less detailed.

Explicitly required is ‘casual but modest dress.’ For women, this can include trousers, capri pants, skirts, and dresses, though bottoms must be knee length and shoulders must be covered.

 

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Queen Mathilde looked in high spirits as she shook hands with Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, before entering the venue. 

The Belgian royal wore a very similar outfit to one she sported back in 2015 where she visited Pope Francis.

Except last time she had a private audience, the Queen was on crutches as she suffered a fall and had injured her knee. But still, Queen Mathilde powered on with engagements.

The last time that Queen Mathilde was seen on an engagement was at the country’s National Day which was on the end of July.

Her daughters Princesses Elisabeth, 21, and Eleonore, 15, donned their country’s colours as they arrived at the ‘Te Deum’ mass at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels.

Independence Day celebrates the separation of Belgium from the Netherlands in 1831, as well as the formal establishment of the Kingdom. 




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