Queen Elizabeth to meet Pope Francis in Italy

Queen Elizabeth II's household finances under fire/AFP

Queen Elizabeth II’s household finances under fire/AFP

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will meet Pope Francis during her visit to Italy with Prince Philip in April.

The 87-year-old monarch – who is the head of the Church of England – and Prince Philip are set to visit Rome this April where they will enjoy a private lunch with Italian president Giorgio Napolitano before meeting the leader of the Catholic Church.

A statement issued by Buckingham Palace says: “The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, will visit Rome on Thursday 3 April.

“Her Majesty and His Royal Highness are visiting at the invitation of the president of Italy, President Napolitano.

“The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will visit the presidential palace where they will attend a private lunch hosted by the president.

“Following the private lunch Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will have an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican.”

Although the queen hasn’t met Francis since he was elected in March 2013 she’s made three previous visits to the Vatican in 1961, 1980 and 2000, where she’s greeted Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.

The trip was originally planned for last year but Elizabeth fell ill and was forced to drop out.

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