Page last updated at 16:10 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 17:10 UK

Vatican denies royal gift rumour

Prince Charles and Camilla on their wedding day in 2005
Prince Charles and Camilla are both on their second marriage

The Vatican has denied Prince Charles will receive a memento of Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon at a meeting with the Pope next week.

Pope Benedict XVI will meet the prince and his second wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, when the couple visit Italy.

It had been reported that the Pontiff would give Charles a copy of the 1530 appeal by English peers for the annulment of Henry's marriage.

But chief Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi said this was untrue.

It will be Charles's first audience at the Vatican since his divorce from the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Current wife Camilla has also been married before.

Succession rules

Henry VIII's battles with the Vatican over his divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, ultimately led him to separate the Anglican church from Rome and create the Church of England.

The Pope refused permission for the divorce and Henry broke with Rome, passing the Act of Supremacy, which proclaimed the King the Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Prince Charles and Diana in a private audience with Pope John Paul II, 1985
Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, met Pope John Paul II in 1985

The meeting follows confirmation last month that Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Buckingham Palace have discussed plans to change the rules of succession to the throne.

Downing Street said the scrapping of the ban on heirs to the throne marrying Roman Catholics was discussed, as was giving royal women equal rights.

Charles, who will be head of the Church of England if he becomes king, will spend two days in Italy with Camilla.

According to protocol, the prince will meet the pontiff alone, then will be joined by the duchess and finally members of the royal household.

Camilla will be required to dress in black with a matching veil.

The prince and the duchess married in a civil ceremony in 2005. Their wedding had to be delayed for Charles to attend the funeral of the previous pontiff, Pope John Paul II.

The prince held a private audience with Pope John Paul II in April 1985, along with his then wife Diana.

Camilla is Anglican but her first marriage was to Catholic Andrew Parker Bowles, and the couple brought up their children as Catholics.



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