Why are the Windsors making a point of snubbing Pope Benedict’s funeral?

Pope Benedict – aka Joseph Ratzinger – passed away on New Year’s Eve. Pope Francis actually gave people a heads up days before, asking his flock to send their prayers to Benedict because his health had taken a turn for the worse. Benedict retired from the papacy in 2013, arguably because he was already in poor health (and arguably because the Church’s pedophilia scandal kept growing, and Benedict had helped cover it up). In any case, a complicated legacy. While many of the Catholic monarchs will travel to the Vatican to pay their respects and attend Benedict’s funeral, it turns out that the Windsors are not sending ANYONE. Not even the Wessexes.

The UK’s highest representative at the funeral of controversial Pope Benedict XVI will be Education Secretary Gillian Keegan – with no members of the royal family expected to attend. Keegan will join cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, for the ceremony on Thursday morning at the Vatican, in what some insiders have seen as a snub to the German born pontiff who died last Saturday aged 95.

MailOnline understands no senior members of the Royal Family will be in Rome for the event, which is expected to draw a global TV audience of hundreds of millions as it is beamed live around the world.

Other senior European royals – including Queen Sofia of Spain and King Philippe of Belgium will be at the open air Mass which will take place in St Peter’s Square along with other Catholic noibility.

A Vatican insider said: ‘Although no one was realistically expecting King Charles to attend, it was hoped that perhaps a junior member of the Royal Family would have attended the funeral Mass, especially given King Charles poignant tribute to Francis when he died.’

[From The Daily Mail]

That last quote should probably be Pope John Paul, not “Francis.” Because Charles did go out of his way to not only memorialize Pope John Paul, and Charles actually postponed his wedding to Camilla so he could attend the funeral in 2005. Which… is probably the same kind of thing which should be happening right now, with Benedict’s funeral. Of course Charles is king now, and it would probably be a logistical nightmare (and possibly terrible precedent) for King Charles’s first overseas trip as monarch to be a visit to the Vatican for a funeral. But that’s why Prince William should be tasked with the job. William is the heir, he’s the Prince of Wales now. These are exactly the kinds of diplomatic events William should be sent to. Did William refuse? Or did Charles just not ask because no one believes William is capable of attending a funeral and not causing a diplomatic situation by rage-shrieking at a corpse?

… And if William did refuse, why not the Wessexes? This is so bizarre, it’s like the Windsors are making a point of snubbing a dead pope.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instar.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

87 Responses to “Why are the Windsors making a point of snubbing Pope Benedict’s funeral?”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Layla says:

    And they want us to believe W&K work as hard as “top CEOs”?!

    • SarahCS says:

      Lazy. Just so lazy and entitled.

      I agree with the complicated legacy he leaves behind but isn’t the point of these events to network and hobnob with the other bigwigs from around the world as much as to pay your respects to whoever died? Britain’s role in the world continues to shrink as more and more attention is directed inwards.

    • Sam says:


  2. Nicole says:

    In fairness to the royals, he doesn’t have a complicated legacy — he was flat out a POS who covered for molestation and rape, was wildly homophobic, sanctioned (if not planned) the assassination of church leaders in Central American, pushed out moderate/liberal Catholics and courted right wing fundamentalists.

    • L4Frimaire says:

      That doesn’t seem that much different from the royals, except for the assassination part, although they choose character assassination. They’re also very reactionary and conservative, and turn a blind eye to actions like Andrew’s. I don’t know if other royals refused to go just because they didn’t want to or if the government decided their presence wasn’t necessary.

      • QuiteContrary says:

        Yeah, they have in common the cover-up of child sexual abuse. They should go to compare notes.

      • Tacky says:

        Benedict was also in Hitler Youth and, in addition to covering up pedophilia, he was letting criminals launder money through the Vatican bank. I wish everyone would snub this funeral.

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        Birds of a feather. Anyway, Vatican City is an actual country and the Pope was the head of government and not just a religious figure. Probably don’t want people looking into their own coverups.

      • Marilee says:

        If we’re talking about the royals’ history of covering up molestation, rape and child sexual abuse let’s not forget that it’s not just Prince Andrew; don’t forget to add KC3’s mentor and confidant, Lord Mountbatten, and his ties to Kincora boys’ school to that list.

    • Amy Bee says:

      Andrew was on the Christmas walk.

    • Jazz Hands says:

      In other words, he was their kind of people? I’m only slightly exaggerating.

    • Mcali says:

      Well doesn’t stop them from supporting rapists, pedophiles, and racists in their own family lol.

      I don’t see this as a big deal either and I am Catholic. I think Charles probably had a much deeper connection to JPII and didn’t know Benedict well. They aren’t Catholic, and it’s not a sitting pope. I think they probably should have sent a 2nd or 3rd tier royal (as a gesture to their Catholic commonwealth countries). If they don’t send someone when Pope Francis passes, that will be a different story.

    • TigerMcQueen says:

      So he’s their kind of people. But someone in the firm gets that he’s not only an ex pope but controversial enough that it’s not a big deal for them to attend his funeral.

      I was raised Catholic, believe deeply in the teachings of Jesus, and also deeply, deeply distrust organized religion of any kind. It was Benedict’s election as pope that finally cut my the last, tenuous hold the church had on me. You know, Francis was actually one of the candidates, and though problematic himself in many ways, he’s a thousand times better than Benedict.

    • Peanut Butter says:

      @Nicole, agree with all you said. To be seen honoring his memory could be tricky, and thus may be a choice for which the Windsors catch heat forwhatever they do. Given their track record of awful, selfish, tone-deaf decisions, it’s hard for me to give them any credit for thinking even a little bit deeply on this one. If I were a world leader, however, I’d find it difficult to attend the funeral of such a problematic person.

    • C says:

      Yeah, I can see how the royals wouldn’t want to visibly condone (checks notes):

      Molestation and rape, well, except with Prince Andrew and Jimmy Savile…..
      Homophobia, well, except for the fact the Queen never acknowledged the LGBTQIA community or had patronages for them, and that even though plenty of the grey men are gay there was homophobic discrimination in place in the royal households up to the 2000’s…
      Sanctioned if not planned the assassination of certain leaders, well, as long as you ignore the whole brutal colonization thing…
      Courting right-wing fundamentalists, except for the ones who threaten the Sussexes, they’re okay I guess.

      That being said, the Pope is obviously a religious leader foremost and the British royals head their own church. So I don’t see them acknowledging this funeral as an issue.

    • Nic919 says:

      Benedict was JPII’s right hand man in covering up the molestation scandals for decades. But they made JPII a fast track saint. The direction to cover for the priests came from the pope (s) during the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s when these stories were slowly being reported. Benedict was not the only one to keep this hidden. And I would argue that steeping away in an unprecedented way to let Francis be elected was far more action that any of the previous pontiffs did.

    • Christine says:

      Yep, exactly like the royals.

  3. Cerys says:

    As mentioned in the article, Charles, as heir, represented the UK and the queen at the funeral of John Paul 2 so it’s logical for the current heir to go. I think the most likely explanation is that William has said he is “too busy” to represent his father and country. Also, Charles is interested in other faiths and cultures and probably wanted to attend but William is not interested in anything other than himself.

    • Sugarhere says:

      @Cerys: Despite the historical fact that the heads of the Anglican Church of England -since Henry 8th- have always made a point of distancing themselves, if not antagonizing Roman catholicism, Charles had indeed expressed his interest in other faiths long before he accessed the throne.

      “Interest in other faiths” is the very tactful diplomatic British way for Charles to make it known he intends to openly reconnect more specifically with the roots of his judaism that are so deeply entrenched in the Mountbatten family lineage.

      Doing so, Chuck 3 is breaking away from centuries of monarchical protestant tradition, and that is likely to be the only innovative touch he will be bringing to the game during his expectedly short reign.

      • Hilltop says:

        I dont understand the Judaism and “so deeply entrenched in mountbatten heritage” reference. Is it sarcastic or can you explain?

      • Sugarhere says:

        @Hilltop, I don’t see the sarcasm. Please, be more respectful of the different cults and identities. Your comment is weird. Feel free to do your research. The RF’s lineage is public knowledge.

      • MipMip says:

        Charles’ move to embrace all faiths is because a. Charles is aware that the Anglican faith is no longer the be-all, end-all in the UK and it is one of the ways he is “modernizing” the institution. b. It allowed him to publicly establish ties to Muslim countries with generous royals like the Saudis and UAE states that hand him bags of cash regularly.

        I really don’t think he’s embracing his Jewish lineage, which I am unfamiliar with.

      • Sugarhere says:

        Somebody accepting bribes for access has more to do with greed than embracing all faiths. The connection you’re making is a bit of stretch there.

        Were you aware of Charles’ Romanian ancestry and blood connection with Vlad the Empaler, also known as Dracula? He claimed it. The records are out there for those who wonder where he takes his good looks from 😁

      • GossipGenie says:

        Charles participates at official Sikh and Hindu and Muslim functions (for recent examples) which is what he means. That’s a break with Anglican centric focus of times past. This is something that is pretty commonplace now for leaders in multicultural societies such as Canada for example.

      • Hilltop says:

        I dont think my question was disrespectful.. I happen to be Jewish and the idea of the British monarchs being interested in Judaism (or being or identifying as Jewish) is something I have never heard of— and I do follow this more than the average person. Now that I have googled it I see there is some ancestry, but I havent seen anything about Charles interest. Thats why I was confused and thought there was more to the story or maybe you were being sarcastic, especially given the number of Nazis in the BRF…

      • Sugarhere says:

        @Hilltop. Now I understand you point. From what I know, the Nazi sympathizers within the RF were more on Queen Elizabeth’s German side of the family, while Philip’s Greek and Jewish background had nothing to do with it.

  4. HandforthParish says:

    The only explanation is that Benedict wasn’t a sitting pope when he died, and hadn’t been for nearly a decade- I can understand Catholic monarchs wanting to attend but this is meh to me.

    The death of Benedict has not exactly captured the headlines in the UK, apart from the re-emergence of his past controversies.

    • jo73c says:

      Yes, agree it’s probably because he wasn’t the current pope. The UK (except parts of Scotland!) isn’t very Catholic. The other leaders noted to be attending are from predominantly Catholic countries.
      The pope didn’t attend the Queen’s funeral – she is the nominal head of the Church of England, or that of the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, the functional head of the church.

      • PunkPrincessPhD says:

        @JO73C: rather forgetting Northern Ireland in that statement. And given the tenets of the Good Friday Agreement, equal esteem must be extended to the Catholic and nationalist tradition.

        That said, I don’t think any protocol applies here to an ex-pontiff/ex-head of state.

    • Mary Pester says:

      Your right, it didn’t exactly feature in many headlines and THAT alone is why none of the senior Royals are going, I. E there is nothing there for them. If it HAD been major headlines peg and his Mrs would have been there front and center

    • Jennifer says:

      It was on NPR this morning that very few senior government officials were invited. I think Italy and Germany were the exceptions.

  5. Lemons says:

    Can they just say they don’t care about (or are not capable of) “soft diplomacy”?

  6. Amy Bee says:

    The British royals are still on Christmas break and the former Pope didn’t die in office. That’s probably why no Windsor is going.

    • Giddy says:

      Does the Wales’ Christmas break last until Spring Break? And then it’s summer break and Kate needs to be with the children. Or is William refusing to go on trips with Kate now?

    • Athena says:

      I think the “Statesman” could fly to Rome for a couple of hours and come back to their “Christmas break” by nightfall.

      That family has befriended worse people than Pope Benedict so the idea that they’re keeping their distance because he was problematic rings false.

  7. Elaine says:

    Send Andrew. Familiar company at least.

  8. Evie’s Mom says:

    Maybe this is the New Windsors? A hard line against pedeophila apologists and conspirators? If so I applaud them. For once.

  9. Eurydice says:

    From what I’ve read, the royalty and heads of state who will be attending will do so in a private capacity. Most official representation will be the various ambassadors to Vatican City. The US is sending its ambassador. So, this doesn’t seem like a snub.

    • Maeve says:

      Yup, there’s a big difference in the funeral of a Head of State who dies in office, who gets the full works, and one who’s retired. If the royals had to send a family member to every former head of states’ funeral it would be a full time job. If you look on Wikipedia for the list of dignitaries at JP2’s funeral it was presidents and royals galore, much like it was at JFKs. Former presidents don’t get anything like as big a send off.

  10. glitterachi says:

    I don’t follow the doings of the Catholic Church, so it’s entirely possible that this has been thorough disproven at this point, but I read an interesting take/fact when the resignation was happening: apparently when the Pope changes, so does the entire bureaucracy of the Church, so by retiring Benedict was actually forcing out all of the players who had been complicit in the abuse scandals and cleaning house for a new Pope to come in and actually make some headway.

    • Eleonor says:

      I’d like to point out that with his dimission/abdication Ratzinger paved the way for all the futures Pope who can retire for health reason, something that the British monarchy doesn’t want to do. Once again the Catholic Church is more “modern”.

    • ElleE says:

      Might be a nice way to snub n. Ireland, where the population majority catholic for the first time? Maybe bc P Benedict was one of the last of the Germanic- austrian style popes that are no longer have the majority of the Holy See?
      Maybe no invite?
      So many things can be true at the same time!

  11. Sunday says:

    IDK, I see this as another punctuation of Brexit’s hardline of brand Britain. The Church of England is not Catholic, the Pope is Catholic, they are not going to go out of their way to legitimize something that goes against the Church of England and therefore their head of state. 2005 was a different time; this makes perfect sense given their insular beliefs and tactics at the moment.

  12. Maeve says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to tbh. it sounds as if only the catholic monarchs are going/sending a representative. John Paul 2 was a very different pope in terms of his historical significance and he died in office. Presumably President Biden isn’t going?

    • Allyn says:

      I could see the Duke of Norfolk going as a representative of the Crown, maybe. The Vatican isn’t treating this like a state funeral.

      Why the Duke of Norfolk? Most senior non-royal peer, and the family has historically been Catholic.

  13. Rnot says:

    He was a bad man. Full stop. From any other group of people I’d assume that they just had to wash their hair that day, but Benedict’s offenses were the kind of thing that they themselves engage in. He did something that caused him to be unpersoned by the people in the know and they don’t do that over pedophilia or coverups. So what did he do that was worse than that? Elizabeth is dead so I can’t imagine they’re still in their bruised feelings about abdication.

  14. HeyKay says:

    Not a sitting Pope. Has not been active for 10+ years. He was the first Pope to step down from office in 600 hundred years.
    I was raised hard line Roman Catholic, and he was NOT popular at all.
    Many thought he was not fit to be Pope but he blackmailed his way into office.
    He was known as “The Popes Rottweiler” openly.
    This man was vile.

    If Will simply said “No” that is enough for me.
    Respect the office of Pope. But this man? No. The Devil take him.

    • Becks1 says:

      This is interesting to me bc the hard line Catholics I know loved him.

      WaPo even had an article about how he was the best thing to happen to the catholic church in decades or some such nonsense. I thought it was satire at first.

      It was not.

    • Nic919 says:

      William said no because he’s lazy. I promise you he has no idea about what Ratzinger did prior to and while he was pope.

      I believe ofmichael is catholic so she could attend.

  15. aquarius64 says:

    Perhaps Charles didn’t want reminders that the Church of England, which Charles is now head, was founded by an adulterous monarch who threw over his wife for the sidechick to whom he married. There’s really no excuse for no one from the BRF not being not to go. This is part of the job William was born to doing. I expect Joe Biden to attend, being the second Catholic U.S. president in the country’s history.

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      aquarius64, a poster above said that countries were sending their ambassadors, including the US.

  16. Mcali says:

    In theory yes. But there are still tons of crazy far right cardinals and their minions in the Vatican. They hate Francis and have wanted him out for a long time. The American church is one of the worst. I am scared for the Church when Francis passes.

    All that being said, the Windsors should send someone but I don’t think it’s a huge deal. It might be a big deal to some of the Catholic former/current commonwealth countries looking for any excuse to be pissed off at them though.

  17. Mslove says:

    I don’t think it’s a snub, but I do think Pegs is lazy & bad at soft diplomacy.

  18. Maddie says:

    It is bizarre that no one is going but also I don’t mind that much. Pope Benedict was an awful man.

    • Jennifer says:

      Who the heck would want to go and mourn this guy? Like, he’s not a sitting pope, quit, and was sleazy. I kinda feel like it’s not that horrible that no one goes in his case.

      Also LOL’d at the Vatican saying Francis died.

  19. tamsin says:

    I subscribe to the “not a sitting pope” theory, and therefore not important enough for even a low level Windsor to attend. I believe the British royal family consider themselves a cut above the other remaining monarchies even. I’ve even heard that odious little gnome Angela Levin, who makes a living trashing Meghan, say that the British royals are just a bit more special.

    • Mary says:

      @Tamsin, This. The queen was said to have, a long time ago, referred to the European Royals as the ‘bicycle” Royals. People think that term is cute now but back in the day, it was meant as an insult.

      Also agree to the “not sitting’ part. That is the only thing I can think of to explain why no Royal attended Queen Fabiola of Belgium’s funeral. That was considered a huge snub in Europe.

      Having said that, as special as Britons think they’re royalty is (yuck), acting superior and dismissing the funerals of prominent ex-high office holders of countries with which yours has a good relationship looks pretty amateurish and like a snub – especially so when the Royals knew them on a personal basis. Also, it’s not like there are a lot of ex-popes whose funerals they would have to attend. They could have sent a junior Royal.

      The UK Foreign Office and the Royals really suck at diplomacy, which, I am sorry to say, even sometimes entails paying respects to bad dead people.

  20. Becks1 says:

    I’m on team “this man was awful but the BRF supports awful people all the time soooo……”

    He wasn’t the current pope but he was a former pope obviously and a former head of state. I would want to see how the BRF handles deaths of other former heads of state. Did they send anyone when George HW Bush died? Maybe just the british ambassador, which makes sense, but here it sounds like they’re not even sending him/her, just the education secretary, which I think is where it looks like a snub. This definitely seems like one of the points of all these lesser royals, to go to these types of events. Or use an ambassador.

    Basically I don’t care that really no one is going, but I do think its kind of weird bc it does seem like this may be the path going forward, if Francis retires. It just seems like no one is going because they’re too lazy. It has nothing to do with Benedict’s record in the church.

    Maybe the BRF is aghast at the idea of a ruler appointed by God retiring early?!?

    • L4Frimare says:

      Same. At the end of the day he was a terrible person and not interested in who goes to this funeral.

  21. Claire says:

    The fact that not even the Wessexes are going (or anyone very senior in the UK government beyond an education secretary?) makes me think it’s intentional that the UK at large wants to distance themselves from this particular, problematic pope. And the easy excuse is also that he wasn’t a sitting Pope when he passed so perhaps the same level of official representation at the funeral isn’t warranted? But they’re definitely distancing themselves, and can’t say I blame them.

    • Elizabeth says:

      They could send Princess Michael of Kent or the Duchess of Kent, both of whom are Catholic, or even Lord Nicholas Windsor, who is also Catholic.

  22. ThandieLand says:

    William said no, I told you that beginning 2023 I am reducing my work load. did you not get my Daily mail memo? And the Weesex brother said no; I am not doing any high profile royal appearance until I am Duke of Endingburgh, only family events; you can send Sophie if she’d go . Anne said plainly. Hell no !!. So here we are with the slimmed down monarchy.

  23. Miranda says:

    I know I’m probably giving them WAY too much credit by suggesting they’re clever enough to consider this, but…I wonder if part of their reasoning for not attending is that it’s all but certain that “sources close to” Andrew would run to anyone who would listen and pout at the hypocrisy of a member of the RF paying their respects to a man who enabled and covered up sexual abuse, when Charles is supposedly* freezing out his own brother for actually committing those offenses (or, more accurately, being CAUGHT committing them. We know damn well that none of them genuinely believes he did anything wrong).

    *Yes, the church walk showed that he’s not nearly as cut-off as he deserves to be, but Andrew is an eternal “victim”.

  24. Slippers4life says:

    They should just send Jason Knauf!

  25. AnneL says:

    I think the fact that he hasn’t been Pope for a number of years now probably has a lot to do with it. It also gives them a convenient “out,” frankly, because he was and remains very very problematic. I think even the Windsors, or at least their handlers, can see that.

    Which is not to say William isn’t lazy. He is. But this isn’t quite the same situation as John Paul’s death.

  26. Lizzie says:

    I mean, what else does TOB have to do? Is he in some sort of anger management lock up? This is an actual opportunity for TOB to look like a stateman.

  27. Julia K says:

    William (also Kate) do not want people to get accustomed to their presence on a regular basis. If he attends this funeral he may be expected to go to many others. Not wanting to set a precedent may be part of their long range plans.

  28. Catherine says:

    Maybe they want to make clear once again to Britain’s Catholics that they have no respect for them or their Church. So much for the Defender of Faith.

  29. Nerd says:

    Previous controversies of the former pope seem irrelevant when talking about a family that has done or affiliated themselves with similar type people and actions. They are a very corrupt family and can’t pass judgment of others for the same or similar actions. I don’t think this has anything to do with the pope no longer being a seated Pope, after all Charles did travel to the US to attend the funeral of former President HW Bush. I can understand him not wanting to go because it puts the monarch closer to the controversial pope and his funeral, but not sending anyone below him is a clear snub and not the actions of someone who is a monarch or Head of Church. They are forced to interact with people from all over the world who might not have upstanding morals or past all of the time. Their own past and present are questionable, yet they can’t send even the Wessexes?

    • Emily_C says:

      The Church of England exists in direct opposition to the Catholic Church, so I really don’t know why they’d send anyone.

  30. Robert Phillips says:

    Let’s see, Andrew is a pedophile. Just like all the priests Ratzy covered for. Yeah lets send someone to his funeral so they can associate the family with him.

    • HamsterJam says:

      If the British royal family sent Prince Andrew (in a private capacity) to the previous pedophile pandering pope’s funeral it would go down as the greatest shade-throwing snub in history.

      It is not often that pedophiles can be used for good, this is one of those times.

  31. SurelyNot says:

    To be fair – they didn’t send a Windsor to my neighbor up the block’s funeral either — and he was about as important on the global stage as this unemployed cardinal.

    This isn’t a big deal – if it were, actual heads of state would be lining up — is the UK sending the PM? Or the Secretary of Fig Leaves?

  32. Visa Diva says:

    According to the Guardian, only Italy and Germany were invited to send official delegations, all other heads of state, heads of government, etc are there in a private capacity, which I take to mean they’re probably there because they’re Catholic. There may be other religions leaders there like the Patriarch from the Greek Orthodox Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury to pay their respects, but that’s speculation on my part.

  33. bisynaptic says:

    LOL they don’t like people who abdicate.
    Also: nice Freudian slip about Francis.