Confirmation arrived this evening that we are to attend the Vatican and a service with The Pope. It is likely we will be seated in the front row and may have an opportunity to speak with the Holy Father and ask for prayers for Madeleine. This is a hugely important visit both personally, for Kate and I, but also for the wider campaign to publicise Madeleine’s disappearance. The trip has been facilitated through Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and we will be receiving assistance from the British Embassy whilst in Rome. On this occasion because of the short notice and the relatively early time of the service we have accepted the kind offer of the use of Sir Philip Green’s personal jet, which will help get us home quickly after our Papal visit to see the twins before their bedtime. We will be accompanied by a small group of media who are still with us in Praia da Luz and, as usual all the material will be available to all the British press and broadcasters equally. For all trips we are assessing whether commercial flights can get us to our destination and back to Portugal quickly. This will NOT be a Tour- it is a series of very brief visits with the specific aim of raising awareness and we aim to get back here as quickly as possible.
We have decided that for the majority of trips it will not be practicable, or fair, to take Sean and Amelie with us. They have an established routine which we do not want to disrupt and will be looked after by very close family. Tonight for the first time they have gone to sleep in their own single beds, rather than cots, now that another two of our family have gone home. We were planning to turn their cots at home into beds after our 1 week holiday but obviously this has been delayed with Madeleine’s abduction. We have been in Praia da Luz for over 4 weeks and Sean and Amelie’s development from toddlers to little boy and girl continues. Madeleine will really notice the difference when she sees them!
Some of you may have seen on the news the huge inflatable billboard which has travelled all the way from the West of Scotland to Portugal which will be used near busy roads/motorways to keep Madeleine’s disappearance high profile. We had a brief chat with Chris and Les, who drove almost non-stop from Glasgow to get here. The extraordinary length ordinary people are going to help us is truly overwhelming. We thank everyone for their efforts, no matter how small, and we know this will make a difference in our search for Madeleine.