The Vatican is preparing Pope Benedict XVI for his first formal visit to the United Kingdom at a price tag of some £20 million.

Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II and the episcopal conferences of the United Kingdom to visit in September, according to the spokesman of the Holy See.

Pope Benedict's visit will begin in Scotland and last from Sept.16-19. Upon his arrival in Edinburgh on Thursday, he will meet with the Queen at the Royal Palace of Holyrood House, then that evening he will go to Glasgow to celebrate an open-air Mass in Bellahouston Park.

On Friday Sept. 17 he will travel to London by plane for a number of meetings, including a meeting with an Anglican delegation led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

That afternoon, an encounter will be held in Westminster Hall, the United Kingdom's house of parliament, with members of British society.

Pope Benedict's upcoming visit, is expected to be an opportunity to strengthen ties between the country and the Holy See.

The Government will pay £12 million for the state aspects of the visit, not including policing costs. The Catholic Church is also contributing £7m for the pastoral side of the visit.

The visit has, however, caused controversy in the UK because of the cost and the scandal surrounding child abuse within the Catholic Church resulting in the Church in the United States claiming bankruptcy.