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David Cameron and the Queen Elizabeth II will not attend Tuesday’s inauguration of Pope Francis.
There were suggestions that the move might be seen as a snub after Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner revealed that she had asked the pontiff to intervene in her country’s dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands.
But a Downing Street spokesman said on Monday night that the Prime Minister’s decision to send Cabinet ministers Baroness Warsi and Kenneth Clarke to the inauguration “is absolutely nothing to do with the Falklands”.
The most senior British royal to attend will be the Duke of Gloucester.
Kirchner became the first foreign head of state to meet the new pope, formerly Archbishop of Buenos Aires, at the Vatican City on Monday.
Afterwards, she said: “I asked for his intervention to avoid problems that could emerge from the militarisation of Great Britain in the south Atlantic.”
The Vatican refused to comment, saying the meeting was “private and informal”.
Kirchner’s relationship with Jorge Mario Bergoglio before he was elected pope was toxic, as the pair clashed over her government’s socially liberal policies.
But on Monday, after they exchanged gifts, she said: “I was so happy he invited me to meet him and that I got eat his last lunch with him before he becomes pope. And never before has a pope kissed me.”
A total of 130 delegations are due to attend the pope’s inaugural mass on Tuesday, including one led by the Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. - Daily Mail