As head of state at the Vatican, not to mention the leader of the world's 1.2 billion catholics, protocol requires visitors to bow to him when they meet him at the Holy See.
But Pope Francis, who has made the forgetting of formalities a trademark of his papacy, bowed when he met a smiling Rania as she visited the Vatican with her husband King Abdullah II on Thursday.
“Up until the 19th century, visitors would kiss the pope’s shoes, and the tradition is still that all visitors, women included, bow to him, but Francis behaves as he did before he became Pope and is not interested in protocol,” said a senior Vatican official.
It is not the first time the Pope has eschewed formality when receiving visitors.
When Cristina Kirchner, Argentina’s president, met him in March, a day before his formal inauguration, he gave her a kiss after she presented him with a gourd for mate, the traditional Argentine tea.
“Never in my life has a Pope kissed me!”, Kirchner said afterwards.
When she met the Pope in July, Brazilian’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff took the initiative, kissing Francis on both cheeks.
Pope Francis’ bow was just the latest in a series of signs that he has no time for ceremony. On Wednesday, he showed up in Rome for a religious ceremony in an unmarked Ford, without the papal flag or number plate, driven by a Vatican gendarme.
No time for ceremony
>> In March, he kissed Argentina President Cristina Kirchner on the cheek when they met, eliciting shock and excitement from the president.
>> Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff kissed Francis on both cheeks when she met him in July.
>> He very often doesn’t use the papal mobile and lives in a simple apartment rather than in the Vatican. u00a0