There are some interesting coming from the recent visit of President Trump to Pope Francis of Rome. Many are commenting on First Lady Melania and Ivanka wearing black and black veils in the presence of the Holy Father as in this photo:
Why are Melania and Ivanka wearing black?
In Catholic symbolism (and human symbolism!) black garments signifies humility and the desire to not be noticed. During a papal audience, it is traditional protocol for men to dress simply (President Trump has a black and white tie) and for women to wear long black dresses that cover the knee, are high collar (no cleavage for the pope, please), and long sleeves. Melania and Ivanka provide a nice example of how it’s supposed to look.
But there is an exception for a few Catholic princesses and queens: Le privilège du blanc!
Le privilège du blanc for Royal Women
Le privilège du blanc or “the privilege of the white” in the presence of the Pope is granted to royal women so long as they remain in good standing with the Catholic Church. Heresy or a non-sacramental marriage would lead to the Pope “declining the privilege.” The following royal ladies have the privilège du blanc:
- Queen of Belgium
- Queen of Spain
- Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
- Princess of Naples
- Princess of Monaco
Charlene of Monaco (photo to the right) used theprivilège du blanc 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. Queen Sofía of Spain also used the privilege in 2016.
Cherie Blair (wife of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair) was highly criticized for wearing white while visiting Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.