VATICAN CITY (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II — bearing a basket of honey, whiskey and other goodies from the royal estates — paid a visit to Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday. The pontiff returned the courtesy with a gift for Prince George, Elizabeth's great-grandson.
The Argentine-born pope presented the queen with a stone orb topped with a sharp cross, saying it's for "el ninetto" — a term of endearment for little child. Elizabeth said George "will be thrilled by that — when he's a little older."
The exchange of gifts capped a private meeting of just under 20 minutes between Elizabeth, her husband, Prince Philip, and Francis — with communication facilitated by an interpreter.
Francis did say "Welcome!" in English when the royal couple arrived about 20 minutes late for their appointment.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," Elizabeth told Francis. "We were having a very pleasant lunch with the president."
She was referring to Italy's head of state, Giorgio Napolitano, who hosted the queen and Philip for lunch at the presidential Quirinal palace.
The white-gloved monarch arrived earlier in the day in Rome wearing a lilac-colored spring coat and hat that matched the wisteria blooming over much of the Italian capital.