We've had the best. Now the rest.
Normally I'm a fan of Queen Sofia (Spain), especially in terms of her sartorial elegance. But when it comes to papal audiences, she has a history of sticking with the protocols that suit her (like wearing white) while ignoring others (the mantilla).
If you're going to exercise your privilège du blanc - granted as a sign of respect for Catholic monarchs - then make a return gesture of respect by donning a mantilla.
With Pope John Paul II.
2. Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson - former Irish President
Her successor, Mary McAleese, sensibly chose to wear black when she met Pope John Paul II in 2003 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 (photo below) but was likewise sans mantilla.
Pope Benedict XVI with Irish President
Mary McAleese, 23 March 2007
I haven't been able to find a photo of
this, but according to the Catholic News Service 'Winnie Mandela, who was the wife of then-vice president of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela, wore a long lacy dress that was whiter than the pope's vestments in a June 15, 1990, visit to the Vatican.'
4. Raisa Gorbachev
Raisa Gorbachev with Pope John Paul II, December 1989.
It's a faux pas that still gets discussed. This monumental meeting between the Polish pope and the last head of state of the USSR was almost over shadowed by the bright red dress worn by Mrs Gorbachev.
5. Cherie Blair
The wife of then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Cherie Blair
meets Pope Benedict XVI, 28 April 200
What's wrong with this photo? Well, she's in white (a privilege reserved only for reigning Catholic monarchs), she should be in black, her head isn't covered and she's a celebrity heterodox 'Catholic' who likes to publicly criticize church teachings. In fact, according to some accounts, she's on a one-woman mission to modernize the church.
I'm going to make a point of praying for her more often.