Prince Philip: Military links brought the duke to the South West

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Prince Philip
Image caption,
Prince Philip taking the Royal Marines' salute at RMB Chivenor, in Devon, in 2011

From arriving in Devon as a teenager for naval training to taking the Royal Marines' salute at RMB Chivenor in 2011, the South West played a big part in the life of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Philip accompanied the Queen on many visits to the region.

They included presenting the Royal Marines with new regimental colours in Plymouth and rugby games as patron of the Cornwall Rugby Football Union.

But it was his military connection which brought him back time and again.

Image source, Mirrorpix
Image caption,
The Duke of Edinburgh visited the beagle kennels at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in July 1958

Leaving school at 17, he joined the Royal Navy as a cadet, arriving at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in Devon in 1939, just before the outbreak of World War Two.

He graduated as top cadet.

Aside from his career, the college played another significant role in his life when in July 1939, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and their daughters visited.

It was his first proper introduction to the then 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth, the woman destined to be his wife.

Image source, A J O'Brien
Image caption,
Naval cadet Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (second from right) in the chapel at the naval college in Dartmouth during the 1939 visit when he first met his future wife, Princess Elizabeth (third from left)

He saw active service on board a number of ships in World War Two, was mentioned in despatches and rose rapidly through the ranks from midshipman to first lieutenant by the end of the war.

Lt Philip Mountbatten and the then Princess Elizabeth married in November 1947 and for a few years embarked on life as a naval couple.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
On a visit to Tresco in 1967, Prince Philip and the Queen spoke to then Minister of Labour, Ray Gunter who pointed out that as he was staying in their holiday cottage that made them Prince Charles' tenants
Image source, Terry Fincher
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The Royal family went for a ride in an open-top vehicle during the 1967 Isles of Scilly trip

On the Queen's accession in 1952, the duke took on royal duties full-time, a role which brought him back to the South West regularly.

Many of his visits were in connection with his passion for wildlife and his support of young people, including a visit to Polzeath in Cornwall in 2000 to open a new surf lifesaving centre.

Image caption,
Prince Philip on the beach in Polzeath in 2000

He was known for his dry and sometimes forthright sense of humour - something he demonstrated on a visit to Bude in North Cornwall when he said he was "absolutely fascinated" by how people managed to get to the town because it was so far away.

In 2006 he met youngsters preparing to sail from Torbay on a leg of the Tall Ships race and four years later he was out on Dartmoor greeting thousands of walkers at the end of the 50th Ten Tors expedition.

A year later he joined the Queen on a sunny summer visit to the Isles of Scilly to open the new Five Islands School.

Image source, Tim Graham
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The Queen and Prince Philip smiling at the start of her Golden Jubilee tour in Falmouth where she launched a new lifeboat
Image source, PA Media
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Prince Philip left an impression of his feet in a mould on a 2013 visit to St Michael's Mount

Aside from openings and markings of anniversaries, it was the duke's military connections that often brought him to the region.

As captain general of the Royal Marines, he attended a huge ceremony on Plymouth Hoe where he presented the service with new regimental colours, a role he had previously carried out 50 years before.

Image source, Tim Graham
Image caption,
Prince Philip joking with Prince Andrew while inspecting the passing out parade at Britannia Royal Naval College in which his son was taking part

But Dartmouth held a special place in his heart.

Prince Philip returned many times to take the salute at passing out parades, including for his own son, Prince Andrew in 1980.

In 1999 - 60 years after his own training there - he opened the Britannia Museum.

His final official salute at the college was at a 2010 passing out parade for 150 new naval officers.

Image caption,
The duke on his final official visit to Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in 2010