Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, had a very special affection for Australia and its people.
That's according to the Duke's correspondence with South Coast MP Shelley Hancock which was received May 17, 2017.
And, it is fair to say that affection was reciprocated by many in the Shoalhaven, evidenced by the immense amount of community commentary garnered from Gareth Ward's Shoalhaven News Facebook post which shared Prince Phillip's passing.
Perhaps for many in the Shoalhaven, that affection stemmed from his visit to HMAS Albatross on November 21, 1956 which was covered by The Shoalhaven and Nowra News.
The purpose of the Duke's visit, which was one of 22 royal visits to Australia, was to officially open the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. Aboard a naval Dakota aircraft, he travelled from Canberra to the Navy station and was welcomed by the Minister for the Navy Mr Davidson, Captain Fenshawe and Rear Admiral Buchanan upon his arrival.
At that point, Phillip was a commander of the British Royal Navy and had been in charge of his frigate HMS Magpie a few years prior, where he acquired the shipboard nickname 'Dukey'. He ceased his active service on February 6, 1952, upon Queen Elizabeth's accession and he committed to sharing her official and public life.
Despite his newfound commitment to public life, his unwavering love of ships and the sea continued.
"At sea you're in a cockleshell in this enormous expanse of the ocean," he once said.
"So that tends to cut you down in size a bit."
His love of ships resonated in the Shoalhaven front page article as he "appeared to be particularly interested in the Australian Joint Anti-Submarine School".
A dazzling display of aerial acrobatics
Royal visit leads the Nowra news (August 30, 2017) covered Prince Philip's tour of the Navy station. It spoke of Phillip being given a guided tour through the station's new canteen, its recruit's quarters and various hangars. He witnessed mechanics servicing aircraft and got to see their modified Land Rovers.
British Land Rovers were a favourite of Prince Phillip and hold a royal warrant as a supplier to the royal family. It was the car he was driving when he was involved in a crash which injured two women in 2019 and it will be the car his body will be in at his funeral.
After his tour, the Duke was taken to the station's control tower to watch an air show which featured Navy helicopters and Sea Fury, Vampire Jet, Firefly and Gannet aircraft. A spectacle of acrobatics took place as three pilots danced in the air in their Sea Fury aeroplanes. Commander GAJ Goodhard of world glider speed record fame, performed a series of loops and dives 2000 feet above the ground.
Phillip was shown a demonstration by Safety Equipment Instructor Lt Cmdr Bateman where the Duke got to see the protocol for pilots escaping from an aircraft in the event of its crash landing in water.
"Lt Cmdr Bateman, who was strapped in an old aircraft cockpit, was hurled into the swimming pool by a special device used for training purposes and in a remarkably short time had freed himself, inflated his rubber dinghy and with paddles reminiscent of the old time 'butter pats' rowed ashore non the worse for the experience, but very wet".
A brass ornament with a design including a boomerang and an albatross was presented to the Duke by HMAS Albatross officials.