The Pope is planning to present the Prince of Wales with a memento of Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon at a meeting next week. The prince will get a copy of the 1530 appeal by English peers to Pope Clement VII asking for a marriage annulment. Pope Benedict will also meet Charles's second wife, the Duchess of Cornwall.
The gift is being seen as an attempt to help heal centuries of schism between Rome and the Church of England, which was established by Henry VIII. It will be Charles's first audience at the Vatican since his divorce from the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Current wife Camilla has also been married before.
Stefano Della Zana, from Scrinium publishers, which is reproducing the special document, said: "It is kept in the Vatican secret archives. This is absolutely the first time anyone has been given a copy." Henry VIII battled with the Vatican throughout his life, which ultimately led him to separate the Anglican church from Rome and create the Church of England.
He had wanted his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled in order to allow him to remarry and ensure a male heir.The Pope refused permission and Henry broke with Rome, passing the Act of Supremacy, which proclaimed the King the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
The meeting follows confirmation last month that Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Buckingham Palace have discussed plans to change the rules of succession to the throne.
Downing Street said the scrapping of the ban on heirs to the throne marrying Roman Catholics was discussed, as was giving royal women equal rights.Charles, who will be head of the Church of England if he becomes king, will spend two days in Italy with Camilla.
According to protocol, the prince will meet the pontiff alone, then will be joined by the duchess and finally members of the Royal Household.Camilla will be required to dress in black with a matching veil. The prince and the duchess married in a civil ceremony in 2005. Their wedding had to be delayed for Charles to attend the funeral of the previous pontiff, Pope John Paul II.
The prince held a private audience with Pope John Paul II in April 1985, along with his then wife Diana.
Camilla is Anglican but her first marriage was to Catholic Andrew Parker Bowles, and the couple brought up their children as Catholics.