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    A final wave and then Pope heads home


    by ODN


    Britain's historic papal visit has come to an end as Benedict XVI gave his final wave from the steps of his plane.

    The Pontiff boarded his specially-prepared aircraft at Birmingham Airport on a windy Sunday evening after thanking the nation for its hospitality.

    In speeches to a small crowd of dignitaries on the airport's apron, both he and Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to strengthen relationships between Britain and the Vatican.

    The hustle and bustle of the airport continued throughout the day, with holidaymakers oblivious to frantic behind-the-scenes preparations for the Pontiff's departure.

    Hours before his arrival, police and officials swarmed round the Alitalia plane, checking every detail, while officials practised "walk-throughs" on a specially-laid cross-shaped red carpet.

    The faithful hoping to catch one last view of the Pope had been warned to stay away, but holidaymakers may have managed to grab a glance from their planes as commercial airlines continued to take off and land.