Just last year Queen Elizabeth raised some eyebrows while visiting Dublin by turning down a pint of Guinness at the St James’ Gate but it seems she’ll accept poitín. A rare photo shows Princess Elizabeth in 1946 examining a poitín still created by trainee policemen.
This photo, published by the BBC, shows a young Princess Elizabeth standing by a poitín still.
The Royal Highness was being treated to a strange spectacle by a group of young Irish police recruits. The Princess was there to inspect the passing out parade and observe the men in the gym. The police decided to make her visit a little different by recreating an illegal poitin still and dressing the part.
The most shocking part of the day came when one of the recruits offered the 19-year-old Princess a bottle of the illegal liquor.
Charles Friel, the son of the sergeant instructor present on the day, remembers hearing stories about the incident.
He told the BBC “My father and the recruits had all dressed up in very old clothes and looked like vagabonds and rough guys distilling this poitín…For years afterwards he kept the jumper that was full of holes and wore it while he was gardening. My mother used to give off to him about this and he'd say: 'Well, if it was good enough for the Princess, it is good enough for me to garden in."
The matter of the Princess receiving poitin didn’t end there. It just so happed that a young man in the crowd was Ian Paisley, who went on to raise the matter in Stormont.
Friel said “All sorts of folk got rockets: Why did this happen, how did it happen, why did they distill illicit poitín and why was the Princess embarrassed into being offered some…The row went on for quite a while."
During her 1946 visit she went on to met with World War I veterans and boarded the HMS Superb in Belfast.