Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Here's Why Melania Trump Wore Black To Meet The Pope

President Donald Trump met a sad-looking Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, along with his wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and others.

Melania and Ivanka both wore black dresses with long sleeves and black veils (Melania’s dress was Dolce & Gabbana, a possible nod to the host country). Although Pope Francis has not enforced traditional dress code rules for women at private Vatican audiences as strictly as his predecessors did, both women kept to old-school protocol.

This traditional rule holds that most women wear long black dresses with sleeves and mantillas, and only a very select handful of women enjoy an exception. These ladies have the “privilège du blanc,” or “privilege of the white,” which means they’re allowed to wear white if they choose. According to the World Heritage Encyclopedia, the queens of Italy, Belgium and Spain, grand duchesses of Luxembourg, and princesses of the House of Savoy are automatically allowed to exercise the “privilège du blanc.

There’s a common theme: Those are all Catholic royal houses, though not all Catholic royals automatically enjoy the privilege. And modern first ladies, at least, have strictly adhered to the traditional mandate.

“Per Vatican protocol, women who have an audience with the Pope are required to wear long sleeves, formal black clothing, and a veil to cover the head,” the first lady’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN in a statement.

© Vatican Pool - Corbis via Getty Images President Trump, wife Melania Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump meet with Pope Francis, on May 24 in Vatican City, Vatican.

See what other first ladies and royals have worn for audiences with the Pope:

Hillary Clinton

© Luciano Mellace / Reuters
Like first ladies before her, longtime Methodist Hillary Clinton wore black with a black veil to the Vatican. She exchanged gifts with Pope John Paul II alongside her mother Dorothy Rodham in 1994.

Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg

© POOL New / Reuters
Pope Francis poses with Luxembourg's Grand Duke Henri, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa and three of their grandchildren at the Vatican in 2016. Women traditionally had to wear a full-length dress when meeting the pope at the Vatican, but that rule has been relaxed.

Queen Mathilde of Belgium

© POOL New / Reuters
Pope Francis chats with Belgium's Queen Mathilde and King Philippe during a meeting at the Vatican in 2015. As wives of "Most Catholic" monarchs, both Mathilde and her mother-in-law, Queen Paola, are given "le privilège du blanc."

Queen Rania of Jordan

© POOL New / Reuters
A member of a Muslim monarchy, Queen Rania of Jordan wore black to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2013. The dress code is more relaxed when meetings happen in other settings: She wore white when receiving the pope in Jordan the following year.

Queen Masenate Mohato of Lesotho

© POOL New / Reuters
Although she and her husband are Catholic, Lesotho's Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso does not have "le privilège du blanc." She wore black when visiting Pope Francis with King Letsie III at the Vatican in 2013.

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand

© Getty Images
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II presented gifts to Pope Francis in lavender at the Vatican in 2014. The conscientious queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, traditionally wore very formal black when meeting previous popes at the Vatican -- often with a tiara, even! -- but broke out her color wheel after Pope Francis relaxed the dress code.

Diana, Princess of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

© Anwar Hussein via Getty Images
Both Diana, Princess of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall wore black as they met Pope Paul II in April 1985 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, respectively. Pope Francis, however, requires less formality: When Camilla and Prince Charles met him in April 2017, she wore a cream coat dress with no veil.

Laura Bush

© STR New / Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI received Laura Bush in black in 2006 as the first lady was on her way to the Olympics.

Princess Charlene of Monaco

© POOL New / Reuters
Historically, the wife of the prince of Monaco did not have the privilège du blanc -- but after Charlene wore white to this visit in 2013, prompting a few eyebrows to raise, the Vatican reportedly issued a statement that "in accordance with prescribed ceremonial of the Vatican for Catholic sovereigns, the princess was allowed to dress in white."

Princess Grace of Monaco

© Bettmann via Getty Images
Charlene's late mother-in-law, Catholic Princess Grace, never received the privilege. She met Pope Pius XII in 1957 in formal black before she and Prince Ranier prayed at three different altars at the Vatican.

Queen Silvia and Princess Madeleine of Sweden

© Reuters
As members of a protestant house, Swedish royals wear black. Here Pope Francis poses with Queen Silvia, her daughter Princess Madeleine and Madeleine's husband Christopher O'Neill at the Vatican in 2015.

Queen Letizia of Spain

© Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters
Spain's Queen Letizia rocked business blanc when she and King Felipe visited Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2014.

Queen Sofia of Spain and Queen Paola of Belgium

© Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters
Spain's Queen Sofia and Belgium's Queen Paola exercised their white privileges at Francis' inauguration at the Vatican in 2014.

Michelle Obama

© Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
Michelle Obama's first papal meeting occurred with Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 (she and her husband also later met Pope Francis). She followed tradition in black.

Barbara Bush

© Luciano Mellace / Reuters
Barbara Bush was meeting with popes back when her husband was "just" vice president. Here she is in a minimalist head covering with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1985.

Jackie Kennedy

© Bettmann via Getty Images
Gotta be royal! First lady Jackie Kennedy was Catholic, but the white rule doesn't apply to non-royals. She wore full-length black to meet Pope John XXIII in 1962.

Princess Kiko of Japan

© Reuters
Princess Kiko wore traditional dress when meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2016.

Princess Marie and Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein

© POOL New / Reuters
Liechtenstein is a longtime Catholic monarchy, but its royal women have not historically enjoyed the privilège du blanc. Confusing.

Nancy Reagan

© Historical via Getty Images
Nancy Reagan followed protocol when meeting Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands

© Europa Press via Getty Images

Rules are tricky: Queen Maxima of the Netherlands remained Catholic after her marriage, but the Dutch royal family is protestant. She wears black in the presence of the pope, as demonstrated at his inauguration in 2013.

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