Pope Francis wants more modest meeting with Queen
In keeping with his tradition of breaking with tradition, Pope Francis will reportedly not be receiving the Queen at the Papal apartments when she visits in April.
Instead, he has expressed a desire for a more informal and intimate meeting, sharing a cup of tea with the Queen in his sitting room of the Vatican Boarding House, Domus Sanctae Marthae – St Martha's House, which he has made his home.
The Argentine pontiff has three rooms in the nun-run hostel, where he is often seen in the canteen, when he is not busy cooking his own pasta.
It is likely to be a very different style of meeting to the one the Pope will have with US President Barack Obama when he arrives in March. It will certainly be much less formal than the Queen's state visit to Italy in 2000.
The visit is expected to be very popular with Britain's four million Catholics, and will strengthen ties between the Anglican and Catholic Churches, building on the visit of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to the Vatican last June.
The visit will also go further to mark the Queen's place as the most Catholic-friendly Supreme Governor of the Church of England in modern times.
In the 1980s, during the papacy of John Paul II, the Queen became both the fist British monarch to visit the Vatican, and to play host to a pontiff in London.
In 2010 she also welcomed Pope Benedict XVI with full state pageantry on the occasion of his visit to Britain.
Last July, the Queen signed legislation repealing the three century old rule that excluded royals who married Catholics from the line of succession.
This positive relationship has been reciprocated by the Vatican, as Pope Francis recently appointed Britain's most senior Catholic, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, as one of his first new cardinals.
The Queen will also be meeting Italian head of state, President Giorgio Napolitano, who is reported to have been the one who suggested the Vatican visit.
Although he has been a member of the Italian communist party for 46 years, President Napolitano is a great admirer of the Queen. Being nine months older than her, she is second only to him in the listings of the oldest heads of state in Europe.
The pair are said to be rather good friends and the Napolitanos have visited the Windsors at Buckingham Palace on several occasions.
This recent announcement, coupled with one yesterday announcing the Queen's plans to visit France for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, have come on the back of suggestions that the Queen and Prince Philip will be cutting back their official duties.