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Euro-royals turn out to honour Pope Benedict:

Euro-royals turn out to honour Pope Benedict: Queen Sofia of Spain and King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium attend funeral at Vatican

  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died on Saturday in the Vatican monastery aged 95
  • German-born pope was first to resign in 600 years in 2013, citing ill health
  • The packed funeral has been held in at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City
  • Euro-royals attended, including Queen Sofia of Spain and Belgium monarch
  • Read more: Catholics fill St Peter’s Basilica to pay respects to Pope Benedict XVI

European royals have turned out for the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The frail 95-year-old died on Saturday in the Vatican monastery – where he had lived since his shock retirement in 2013. 

At his funeral, held at St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, was King Philippe, 62, and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, 49, who looked somber throughout, as well as Queen Sofia of Spain, 84.

At his funeral, held at St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, was King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, who looked somber throughout

The three royals all wore black and appeared deeply moved by the service.

Queen Mathilde of Belgium, who personally knew the Pope, wore a long black dress and coat, accessorised with a black headscarf and black gloves. 

She also wore a pearl necklace and minimal make-up. 

Beside her, her husband King Philippe was also wrapped up for the outdoor service, as was Queen Sofia, who wore a black coat. 

Queen Sofia reportedly arrived at the Italian capital on Wednesday, and immediately visited St Peter’s Basilica, where she attended the wake for the former Pontif.

Also in attendance was Queen Sofia of Spain (pictured on the left, front row), who seemed reflective

The coffin of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is pictured at the start of his funeral mass at St. Peter’s square in the Vatican

It is understood her husband did not travel with her because he is celebrating his 85th birthday in Abu Dhabi.  

The former Spanish King moved to UAE in 2020, and only visits Spain a handful of times a year. 

The royals appeared to have a front-row seat for the occasion, which was held under misty grey skies.

Cardinals and mourners arrive for the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s square in Vatican City, Vatican

Pallbearers carry the coffin of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the start of his funeral mass at St. Peter’s square on January 5, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican

Pallbearers carry the coffin of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: The Pope served as head of the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (L) and Italian President Sergio Mattarella also attended  the funeral mass 

At one point, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, dressed in black with her head covered, was seen to blow her nose

The three Euro-royals were the only royals to make the trip for the funeral, which attracted thousands 

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla did not attend – although the British monarch led tributes to the Pope after his death.

The monarch expressed his ‘deep sadness’ at the death of the ex-pontiff while he praised his ‘efforts to promote peace and goodwill to all people’.

As revealed by MailOnline, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan was sent as the UK’s representative. 

The Pope – known as ‘God’s Rottweiler’ – was the first to retire from the papacy in 600 years.

And after laying in state, his funeral was held in St Peter’s Square, presided over by Pope Francis.

It was a simple yet popular affair – with thousands of mourners pouring into St Peter’s Square. 

Pope Francis delivered a solemn homily to his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, after arriving on a wheelchair to perform the historic funeral service in front of thousands of mourners gathered in St Peter’s Square.

An estimated 100,000 grieving devotees gathered for the sombre two-hour multilingual ceremony, the first requiem Mass for a dead pope presided over by a living one in 200 years.

Francis, who stood with the aid of a crutch, did not mention Benedict by name in his homily until the final line, in which he referred to Jesus as the ‘bridegroom’ of the church, saying: ‘Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever.’

Those who wished to pay their respects started to pour in at 3am GMT, five and a half hours before the service.

As 12 pallbearers carried in the coffin to the sound of applause and tolling bolls, the faithful read the rosary in Latin and hymns were sung.

The body of the Pope Emeritus was taken from the basilica and rested before the altar in the piazza as red-robed cardinals looked on, while Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, bent down and kissed a book of the Gospels that was left open on the coffin.

The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah was in Spanish while the second from the Letter of St Paul to the Ephesians was in English.

The Gospel reading from the Bible was sung in Italian and from St Luke which told the story of Christ’s crucifixion and two criminals were executed with him.

As the Pope’s coffin was carried out of the Basilica there was a round of applause which continued until the bearer party gently placed the casket on a raised platform in front of the altar.

The Rosary prayer was then recited by the huge crowd as mourners continued to gather in St Peter’s Square and the main Via della Conciliazione which stretches half a mile back to the River Tiber.

The event also attracted heads of state, who mingled with cardinals and archbishops wearing bright red robes. 

But the funeral was designed to be simple – in keeping with the late Pope’s wishes. 

The Vatican has said that only official delegations from Italy and from Benedict’s native Germany were formally invited to attend the ceremony.

A few VIPs had a moment at the basilica before the general public to pay their respects, including Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni, the far-Right leader who in the past has professed admiration for the conservative leanings of Benedict.

Italian president Sergio Mattarella and his daughter Laura Mattarella also paid their respects to the former pope and theologian.

Pope Francis (C) arrives to preside over the funeral ceremony of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) in Saint Peter’s Square, in Vatican City

Within minutes of the announcement of the death on Saturday morning, a wealth of tributes poured in from around the world, while the Vatican revealed that the late pontiff would be given a ‘simple’ funeral, celebrated by Pope Francis, in keeping with his wishes.

King Charles paid his respects to Pope Francis on the death of former Pope Benedict, praising his efforts to ‘promote peace’ between Catholic and Protestant communities.

The king acknowledged the former pontiff’s ‘constant efforts to promote peace’ and to ‘strengthen the relationship between the global Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church’, adding he received the news with ‘deep sadness’.

King Charles expressed his ‘deep sadness’ at Benedict’s death in a message to his successor Pope Francis.

Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger in Marktl, Germany , will lie in state until Wednesday and his funeral will be held on Thursday in St Peter’s Square, presided over by Pope Francis 

In a statement, Charles paid tribute to Benedict and recalled visiting him at the Vatican in 2009.

He said: ‘Your Holiness, I received the news of the death of your predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with deep sadness.

‘I remember with fondness my meeting with His Holiness during my visit to the Vatican in 2009. His visit to the United Kingdom in 2010 was important in strengthening the relations between the Holy See and the United Kingdom.

‘I also recall his constant efforts to promote peace and goodwill to all people, and to strengthen the relationship between the global Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.’

Within minutes of the announcement of the death on Saturday morning, a wealth of tributes poured in from around the world

The then Prince of Wales being welcomed by Pope Benedict XVI in the library at the Vatican in April 2009

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said: ‘I think the news this morning came still with an element of surprise, even though we were warned a few days ago that his health had deteriorated very significantly.

‘I was consoled by a comment I heard that somebody had made in Rome a couple of days ago, where they put it rather beautifully – they said, “The angels are gathering, they’re coming to take him home”.’

The Cardinal also praised Benedict’s ‘landmark’ trip in 2010 when he became the second pope in history to visit the UK, reminiscing about the German theologian meeting the Queen in Edinburgh and an address he made at Westminster Hall, for which ‘every living prime minister was present’.

He added: ‘I remember when the visit was being arranged, the whole expectation was the Pope would come to London but he said, “No, first of all I want to see the Queen”.

King Charles paid his respects to Benedict in a statement recalling the times the pair met shared after the pope’s death 

‘And the Queen was in Balmoral, but she came to Edinburgh and he arrived in the United Kingdom in Edinburgh in order to make sure that his first visit and his first steps in the United Kingdom were with the Queen.

‘Now, it’s worth remembering they’re the same age, the Queen died at 95, Pope Benedict has died at 95. And there was a great esteem between them, a deep respect.

‘I was not far away from that first visit and there was not only respect but there was also a little bit of humour as well that the car that had been provided for the Pope to travel from Edinburgh Airport to Holyrood House Palace she thought was a bit small and it had darkened windows, and she said, ‘That won’t do, it’s got to be something which people can see you (in).

‘The Queen and the Pope understood what it was to be in service more or less for a lifetime.’

Read more: 

King Charles leads tributes from across the world to ‘God’s Rottweiler’ Pope Benedict XVI: Monarch expresses ‘deep sadness’ at the death of ex-pontiff aged 95 as he praises his ‘efforts to promote peace and goodwill to all people’

Pope Benedict XVI’s personal secretary to publish tell-all book which will lift the lid on mysteries and scandals that sullied the reputation of the pontiff he stood by for nearly three decades 

Vatican APOLOGISES to Russia for Pope’s comment that their troops were the ‘cruellest’ fighters in Ukraine 

Princess Charlene looks sombre in a mantilla as she joins Prince Albert for the funeral of the former Archbishop of Monaco  

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