Queen Elizabeth to Meet With Pope Francis in April

It will be the British monarch’s fifth audience with a pope at the Vatican, following earlier meetings with Pius XII, John XXIII, and two meetings with John Paul II.

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Phillip, duke of Edinburgh, will visit Rome on April 3 and will meet with both the Pope and the Italian president, the British Monarchy has announced.

In a Feb. 4 press release, the monarchy said that the queen — who is the head of the Church of England — is traveling to Rome at the invitation of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

After meeting with the politician in a private lunch at the presidential palace, “Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will have an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican,” the statement said.

According to the BBC, the queen had originally planned to visit Rome in 2013, but the visit was canceled due to the monarch falling sick.

This will be the 87-year-old queen's fifth meeting with a pope at the Vatican and her fourth as queen: Previously, she had met Pope Pius XII in 1951, Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1961 and Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1980 and 2000.

In 1982, the queen became the first British monarch to host and meet a reigning pope in the United Kingdom, welcoming John Paul II to the royal residences at Buckingham Palace. She also greeted Benedict XVI with a full state welcome during his 2010 visit to the country.

The queen's visit to Rome will be her first trip outside of the United Kingdom in three years. Buckingham Palace also announced that the queen will travel to France in June to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.