In June of 1997, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh decided to make a last-minute trip.

In June of 1997, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh decided to make a last-minute trip.

Leaving his official duties in Toronto, he travelled to Manitoba to visit with families and Canadian military personnel picking up the pieces left behind by the Flood of the Century in the small town of Ste. Agathe.

"He felt this sense of service, with who he was and the position he held, in a time of crisis like this that he should be there to show the support," Don Leitch, former clerk of the Executive Council in Manitoba, recalled Friday.

The tours

The Duke of Edinburgh made several trips to Manitoba throughout his life, both at the Queen’s side and on his own:

1951 — Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip make their first official visit to Manitoba during a tour of Canada.

1959 — After Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1952, she and the Duke of Edinburgh returned to Manitoba as part of a Canadian tour.

The Duke of Edinburgh made several trips to Manitoba throughout his life, both at the Queen’s side and on his own:

1951 — Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip make their first official visit to Manitoba during a tour of Canada.

1959 — After Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1952, she and the Duke of Edinburgh returned to Manitoba as part of a Canadian tour.

1967 — Prince Philip travelled to Winnipeg on his own to open the Pan American Games.

1970 — Celebrating Manitoba’s 100th year of entering Confederation, Prince Philip joined the Queen and their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne to join the province’s celebration

1978 — Prince Philip makes a solo trip to Manitoba, attending several functions, including the St. Boniface General Hospital Research Awards.

1984 — Prince Philip presents the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards in Thompson.

1992 — Prince Philip visits Churchill.

1997 — Prince Philip flies last minute from Toronto to Ste. Agathe to review flood damage and visit with military officials.

2002 — The Queen and Prince Philip make a trip to Winnipeg for the Queen’s Gold Jubilee.

2010 — The Queen and Prince Philip make an official visit to Winnipeg.

The British royal was nevertheless concerned about being "underfoot" during the tour, Leitch said, and was hesitant of any fanfare.

"This visit to Ste. Agathe was not meant to be a high-profile royal visit, it was him coming because he felt that sense of duty," Leitch said. "His example of service and commitment and respecting your duty is a great lesson for everybody."

On Friday morning, the Royal Family announced the death of 99-year-old Prince Philip.

Those who met the Prince on his many trips to the province between 1951 and 2010, remember him as a charming and plainspoken man.

"Royal visits to Manitoba have always been successful because Manitobans have always had a great love and affection for all members of the Royal Family," said Dwight MacAulay, former chief of protocol for the government of Manitoba.

"I think the people of Manitoba are genuinely saddened by today’s news because, over his many visits, he’s met and seen thousands and thousands of people — and I’m sure each person that he’s met has a very fond and very special place in their hearts for that meeting."

Prince Philip (left) surveys damage in the backyard of a home damaged by flooding of the Red River in 1997.

CANADA ROYALS

Prince Philip (left) surveys damage in the backyard of a home damaged by flooding of the Red River in 1997.

MacAulay organized several of Prince Philip’s trips to Manitoba, including his final visit, along with the Queen, in 2010.

Through those visits, MacAulay recalled the Prince as a man who engaged easily and warmly with veterans and active service members — he himself had a long military career — as well as with senior citizens and youth he honoured through the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards.

The awards, founded by Prince Philip, are designed to challenge and empower young people to take control of their lives and future, according to the organization’s website.

"When he was here in 2002, and played a role in the opening of the Red River College downtown campus (in Winnipeg), he had the chance to engage with a lot of young people, and you could just tell by his smile, he just lit up talking to young people," MacAulay said Friday.

"He was very curious about who they were, where they were from, and what they were hoping to do, and he had a very easy mannerism to engage with young people."

On July 23, 1967, Prince Philip attends the opening ceremonies of the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg. (Winnipeg Free Press files) - Winnipeg Free PressPrince Philip in Manitoba
On July 23, 1967, Prince Philip attends the opening ceremonies of the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg. (Winnipeg Free Press files) - Winnipeg Free Press
Tree-shaded Broadway Boulevard was lined 20 deep with cheering crowds on July 15, 1970 as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip drove in an open carriage escorted by horsemen of RCMP Musical Ride to the legislature building for Manitoba Centennial Day Ceremonies. (Peter Bregg / The Canadian Press files) - Canadian Press
Tree-shaded Broadway Boulevard was lined 20 deep with cheering crowds on July 15, 1970 as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip drove in an open carriage escorted by horsemen of RCMP Musical Ride to the legislature building for Manitoba Centennial Day Ceremonies. (Peter Bregg / The Canadian Press files) - Canadian Press
On July 16, 1970, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrive at the Manitoba legislature. (Winnipeg Free Press files) -
On July 16, 1970, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrive at the Manitoba legislature. (Winnipeg Free Press files) -
On July 16, 1970, Princess Anne and Prince Charles flank their parents, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II, prior to the royal couples’ departure from Manitoba. (Dave Johnson / Winnipeg Free Press files)
 -
On July 16, 1970, Princess Anne and Prince Charles flank their parents, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II, prior to the royal couples’ departure from Manitoba. (Dave Johnson / Winnipeg Free Press files) -
On June 28, 1997, His Royal Highness Prince Philip (left), The Duke of Edinburgh, surveys damage in the backyard of the home of Elie and Anne Dorge with Liberal MP for Provencher, David Iftody, in Ste. Agathe, Man. The Prince was on a quick a tour of the town that was damaged by flooding of the Red River on April 27. (Reuters files) -
On June 28, 1997, His Royal Highness Prince Philip (left), The Duke of Edinburgh, surveys damage in the backyard of the home of Elie and Anne Dorge with Liberal MP for Provencher, David Iftody, in Ste. Agathe, Man. The Prince was on a quick a tour of the town that was damaged by flooding of the Red River on April 27. (Reuters files) -

During one cold October day of that visit, MacAulay was left gripping a broomstick-sized bar on the side of water taxi carrying the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen as their boat stalled in the middle of the Red River.

In an event that made national news at the time — and brought a chuckle from MacAulay on Friday — the Manitoba liaison helped tow the royals’ boat to safety on the St. Boniface side of the river. Neither of the high-ranking passenger made a complaint about the stalled journey or the biting cold, he said.

"I personally will have very fond memories of the royal visits that I was lucky enough to be involved with that involved His Royal Highness," MacAulay said.

Edward Schreyer, who served as Manitoba’s premier (1969-77) and Canada’s governor general (1979-84), spent many occasions with the Royal Family in Canada and abroad. In all their visits, he remembered Prince Philip as "very intelligent, feisty, plainspoken, blunt, and, at times, politically incorrect" — though Schreyer counted it all a mark of good character for the Prince.

"I’ve always had a very high regard for him, and quite frankly, I used to look forward to the times I would get to see him," he said Friday.

Manitoba Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon signs a book of condolences for the late Prince Philip at the Manitoba Legislative Building Friday morning

MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Manitoba Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon signs a book of condolences for the late Prince Philip at the Manitoba Legislative Building Friday morning

Schreyer recalled Prince Philip’s devotion to the Queen, with whom he had an easy and light-hearted rapport, and his legacy to Manitoba as a man keen on connecting with people across age and class boundaries.

Darcie von Axelstierna, chairwoman of the Manitoba branch of the Monarchy Society, considers herself "very fortunate" to have met Prince Philip twice during his Manitoba visits. She remembered him for his poise, humility, and the support he provided to the Queen and to all Canadians.

"His unwavering dedication to duty and all the work he’s done through the years has been fantastic, and it certainly leaves an empty place for many people," she said.

"There are many people who have personal recollections of seeing him. I think he leaves just that sense of devotion to all of us and to the Queen."

julia-simone.rutgers@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @jsrutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers
Reporter

Julia-Simone Rutgers is a general-assignment reporter.

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