Princess Charlene’s audience with Pope Francis yesterday has left royal fashion fans wondering why she broke from tradition.
To the casual observer, Prince Albert II’s wife was dressed in the traditional black outfit and veil a woman would wear to meet the leader of the Catholic church — but Charlene actually has a special privilege that is given to only seven women in the world.
Called a privilège du blanc, the Monaguesque royal is one of the few people who is allowed to wear a white dress and white veil for an audience with the Pope.
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, Princess Marina of Naples, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Queen Paola of Belgium, Queen Letizia of Spain and Queen Sofia of Spain are the other Catholic royals who are granted permission to wear white when meeting the Pope.
Given her position, it’s unknown why Princess Charlene chose to wear black, but the mother of two — who is back in Monaco after suffering from a mysterious illness — looked stunning in a custom-made dress by Terrence Bray for her audience.
The textured black midi dress with long, sheer sleeves was rather edgy in terms of a Vatican visit; its boat neck bared just a hint of shoulder.
She added black nail polish, a black lace veil and a pearl rosary-style necklace with a gold cross for her Papal look, along with blush pumps by Louis Vuitton.
“I’m curious,” one royal fan tweeted. “Isn’t she one of the few royals who can wear white? Not a criticism. She looks lovely.”
Another fashion account shared the sentiment, posting photos from the event and asking, “I wonder why she didn’t wear white as she has the privilege du blanc.”
On previous visits to the Vatican, Princess Charlene chose to use the honor; she wore white for private audiences with Pope Francis in 2013 and 2016. However, she wore a black dress for the Pope’s 2013 inauguration ceremony.
At the end of the day, wearing white is something Princess Charlene is allowed, but not required to do, so perhaps she just felt in the mood for a black ‘fit that day.