It’s rare enough for White Tie to be worn to any diplomatic occasion these days but rarer still to see it worn as per Vatican protocol: in broad daylight and with a black waistcoat. The replacement of the usual white waistcoat may well be related to the proscription of white dresses at papal audiences for any woman other than a Catholic queen. It would appear that this symbol of purity is otherwise reserved solely for the pontiff.
Tailcoats are only required of certain diplomats and at certain occasions such as a papal inauguration Mass (like the one for Pope Francis seen in the photo above) or the pope’s annual new year’s address to the Holy See diplomatic corps. In any other circumstances, a simple dark suit will suffice for an audience with the Holy Father.
Thanks to reader Don Jon for suggesting this post.