Queen gifts Pope Francis eggs, whisky, beer

PHILIP PULLELLA
Last updated 07:14 04/04/2014
Reuters

Queen Elizabeth has met Pope Francis for first time and gave the bemused pontiff culinary delights from the royal estates, including a dozen eggs and a bottle of whisky.

Queen Elizabeth and Pope Francis
Reuters
ICONS MEET: Queen Elizabeth and Pope Francis arrive to attend a meeting at the Vatican.

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Queen Elizabeth has met Pope Francis for the first time and  gave the bemused pontiff culinary delights from the royal estates, including a dozen eggs and a bottle of whisky.

"I've also brought something from all our estates, which is for you personally," said the Queen, wearing a lavender dress and a purple hat, as she handed Francis a wicker basket full of food at the end of a 17-minute private meeting in the Vatican.

The 18 items from Buckingham Palace, Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral also included two types of honey, "Coronation Best Bitter," "Grandad's chutney" and "Sandringham handmade aromatherapy soaps".

A Vatican official said the pope would likely donate the food or share it with other residents of the guest house where he has lived since his election after renouncing the spacious papal apartments.

The Queen and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, met the pope in a modern room attached to the Vatican's audience hall without much of the ceremonial pomp that usually accompanies such visits.

A Vatican statement did not say what the two discussed. The Queen is also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, which split from Rome in 1534.

The pope is Argentine; Britain went to war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, which Argentina calls the Malvinas, in 1982.

To cut short any speculation that the two might have discussed the Falklands, the British embassy reminded reporters that while the pope may be Argentine, the Vatican's official position on the territorial dispute is a neutral one.

Francis also gave the Queen a gift for her eight-month-old great-grandson, Prince George of Cambridge. It was a sphere made of lapis lazuli, a deep blue semi-precious stone, topped with the silver cross of St Edward.

"He will be thrilled by it," the Queen told the pope. Then she paused and added: "When he is a little older".

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