QE2Queen Elizabeth II, 87, with Prince Philip, 92 is today in Rome fulfilling an invitation she had to reschedule in 2013 due to ill health. Last year the Queen was to meet Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano. Her one day visit to Rome brings her to a private lunch at the presidential Quirinale Palace with the Italian President and then to have tea with Pope Francis.

Her Majesty has meet several Roman Pontiffs, the last in 2010 when Pope Benedict made a pastoral visit the United Kingdom. She has met with popes since John XXIII with the exception of Paul VI. As the British monarch she is able to say she knew two saints: John and John Paul.
One wonders if the Queen and the Pope are meeting as sovereigns or as religious leaders. Elizabeth is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Likely a little of both.