Monday, May 01, 2006

Mon Cherie

In case you didn't already know, Cherie Blair, the wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, etc. etc. visited Rome the other day and was received in a private audience by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Supreme Pontiff, Bishop of Rome, etc. etc.

Mrs. Blair and the Pope last Friday

Mrs. Blair was a speaker at the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences conference that has as its topic the youth of the world. In her private audience, Mrs. Blair as we can see was wearing white. The reaction from certain quarters has been less than pleased (from the Telegraph):

Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory minister and a convert to Catholicism, was scathing about Mrs Blair.

"Even the Queen wore black to meet the Pope," she said. "This shows that she has a very grand idea of herself.

"She is a Catholic. She knows what the tradition is when meeting the Pope.

"She obviously thinks she is the first lady.

"My message to her is 'You are not a Catholic Queen, my dear, and you never will be.' "

The former Tory minister was referring to the tradition that only Catholic Queens may exercise the privilege of wearing white in the presence of the Holy Father. All others are bound by tradition to wear black and a mantilla.

Technically, only three women should wear white in the presence of the Pope.

They are Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Paola of Belgium and Josephine Charlotte, the wife of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg. Queen Sofia exercised her privilege in a meeting with the previous Pope in 2003.

As is mentioned above in the other excerpt, when the Queen of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, etc. etc. met the pope, she wore black since she wasn't Catholic.

The photo op... Is B16 tanned or what?

Perhaps Mrs. Blair didn't have time to change?

She was invited as an expert and remained afterwards for a private meeting with the Pope. A spokesman for the Vatican declined to reveal what they had discussed.

She flew to Rome to speak at the conference and was only planning a day trip. She did not anticipate being invited to meet Benedict XVI and thus did not have along a change of clothing. Who knows?

What I want to know is if she had on a knee-length-or-longer skirt.

EDIT: See, I think I'm right on this. From Zenit:

In a press statement, the United Kingdom's ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, said that the meeting between the two was a surprise for Blair, and that she was "thrilled" by the unexpected conversation, which took place in the Pope's library.

Mrs. Blair gets her out and shouldn't be treated harshly for not turning down the pope by saying, 'I don't have a black outfit'. But next time, she had better know better.

Photos: 1) AP, 2) Reuters (both provided by L'Osservatore Romano)

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