Audience (head of state)
An audience is a formal meeting that takes place between a head of state and another person at the invitation of the head of state. Often the invitation follows a request for a meeting from the other person. Though sometimes used in republics to describe meetings with president
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

s, the term Audience is more usually associated with monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

s and pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...


In the past strict dress codes had to be followed by those granted an Audience. Men were required to wear a morning coat or white tie and tails, while women when meeting popes were required to wear full length black dresses and mantilla
A mantilla is a lace or silk veil or shawl worn over the head and shoulders, often over a high comb, popular with women in Spain. It is particularly associated with traditional devotional practices among women in Catholicism.-History:...

s (black veils) unless they were a Catholic King
Catholic King
The titles Catholic King and Catholic Queen are awarded by the Pope as head of the Catholic Church to monarchs who in the eyes of the papacy embody Catholic principles in their personal lives and state policies. The title remains attached to monarchs descended from whoever received the original,...

1, when they could wear white. Formal dress is now normally reserved for diplomatic audiences. In the 1990s, a Roman Catholic priest in Ireland provoked a controversy by claiming that then President of Ireland
President of Ireland
The President of Ireland is the head of state of Ireland. The President is usually directly elected by the people for seven years, and can be elected for a maximum of two terms. The presidency is largely a ceremonial office, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute...

 Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson
Mary Therese Winifred Robinson served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate...

 had breached Vatican protocol by not wearing black, by wearing jewellery and by not wearing a mantilla, for an Audience with Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

. The Vatican immediately rubbished the claims, pointing out that the traditional form of dress worn for Papal Audiences was no longer obligatory but now optional, and no offence was meant or caused by Robinson's decision to wear a dark green unveiled outfit. It was also noted how no-one commented when her predecessor, Patrick Hillery
Patrick Hillery
Patrick John "Paddy" Hillery was an Irish politician and the sixth President of Ireland from 1976 until 1990. First elected at the 1951 general election as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Clare, he remained in Dáil Éireann until 1973...

, wore a lounge suit rather than a morning coat when attending Papal audiences.

Modern popes grant large Papal Audiences to crowds in St. Peter's Square
Saint Peter's Square
Saint Peter's Square is located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome .-History of St...

 or the Paul VI Audience Hall
Paul VI Audience Hall
The Paul VI Audience Hall is a building in Rome, mostly in Italy but partially in Vatican City, but the Italian part of the building is an exterritorial area of the Holy See used by the Pope as an alternative to Saint Peter's Square for conducting his Wednesday morning General Audience...

. In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Audiences with the British monarch are usually listed in the Court Circular
Court Circular
The Court Circular is the official record that lists the engagements carried out by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and of the other Commonwealth Realms; the Royal Family; and appointments to their staff and to the court. It is issued by Buckingham Palace and printed a day in arrears at the back...

, which is published daily by the broadsheet
Broadsheet is the largest of the various newspaper formats and is characterized by long vertical pages . The term derives from types of popular prints usually just of a single sheet, sold on the streets and containing various types of material, from ballads to political satire. The first broadsheet...

 press. The British Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 has a weekly Audience with Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

, usually every Tuesday evening during parliamentary time at Buckingham Palace.


1 The honorific title Catholic King, which was awarded by popes, is applied irrespective of sex, to a very small number of monarchs. Only two monarchs and their spouses currently hold the title; the Kings of Belgium and Spain and their Queens consort.
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