.- Charles, Prince of Wales, and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, met Pope Francis Tuesday at the Vatican, shortly after the British prince had received the Renaissance Man of the Year award for his philanthropic work.
Charles, 68, is heir to the British throne, and in recent years has drawn attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East and to his own country's Christian heritage.
During the April 4 meeting the Pope and the royal couple discussed topics of mutual interest and exchanged gifts, a release from the British Embassy to the Holy See. Pope Francis gave them a bronze sculpture of an olive branch, while they presented him with food from their private residence, Highgrove House, to be distributed to the poor and homeless.
Following the papal audience, Charles and a British diplomat met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, to discuss environmental issues, as well as officials from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Charles and Camilla also visited the Vatican Library and Secret Archives, and met at the Venerable English College with Britons working at the Holy See.
The royal visit to the Vatican marked the conclusion to the couple's visit to the continent.
They visited a Commonwealth cemetery in Vicenza commemorating the First World War, the earthquake-stricken city of Amatrice, and charities helping trafficked persons and the poor.
This was their first meeting with Pope Francis. They encountered Benedict XVI in 2009, and Charles met St. John Paul II with his first wife, Diana, at the Vatican in 1985.