William and Kate in royal cocktail race at Belfast market

The Prince of Wales earned a slightly controversial victory in Belfast in a race against his wife to make the quickest cocktail.

The royal couple accepted the challenge during a visit to Trademarket in Belfast, stepping around to the other side of a bar and listening carefully to instructions.

Poised to start pouring, Kate exclaimed: “He’s started,” to chuckles from William, and started herself, deftly pouring measures of the various drinks into a cocktail maker to create Up the Lagan in a Bubble.

Royal visit to Northern Ireland
The Prince of Wales mixes a cocktail (Brian Lawless/PA)

William remained marginally ahead, shaking the ingredients together, quickly pouring the drink over ice before adding a sprig of mint, and was declared the champion.

But there were no hard feelings as the couple clinked glasses before sampling what they had made.

The drink-mixing came during the second stop on the couple’s one-day trip to Northern Ireland.

Royal visit to Northern Ireland
The Prince of Wales is declared the winner (Brian Lawless/PA)

They arrived at the recently opened outdoor street food and retail market on the Dublin Road to cheers from fans who had caught wind of the visit.

The couple met entrepreneur Will Neill and heard about his aim for Trademarket, to showcase new businesses while also increase footfall in a less-visited area of the city centre.

He described “a bit of a controversial finish” to the cocktail making race.

“I think someone is being accused of starting too early but no, it was great fun and really nice of them to take part in that,” he said.

“It was great to be even thought of for such a visit so early on from the founding, but I think it can only benefit our artisans and benefit the location as a whole.”

The royal couple also met representatives from Kainos, a Belfast-based software company which provided the site for the market at a peppercorn rent, as well as measures to ensure the site is both ethically and environmentally sustainable, including the removal of single-use plastics and a commitment to pay staff a real living wage.

Royal visit to Northern Ireland
The Prince of Wales with Barkley (right) and Waggins during a visit to Trademarket (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Prince of Wales proved to be a hit with both humans and canines at the market, receiving an approving lick from cocker spaniels, Waggins and Barkley.

The dogs caught William’s eye as they prepared to leave.

“I have to stroke them,” William said, kneeling down with a smile before he received a collar for Orla, the couple’s own cocker spaniel.