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Why the Queen of Belgium Can Wear White When Meeting the Pope

Daniel Ibañez/CNA
Queen Mathilde of Belgium is one of only a few women in the world who can wear white, rather than the customary black, when meeting the pope for an official private audience at the Vatican. She arrived at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace with her husband, King Philippe of the Belgians, on Sept. 14, 2023, wearing a white mantilla veil and a white dress.

The traditional Vatican protocol required women to wear a black mantilla and a black dress with long sleeves for official papal audiences, although this custom has been made optional in recent decades.