Ebony and Ben Tyler meeting Prince Philip at the Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga in the late 90s.
Ebony and Ben Tyler meeting Prince Philip at the Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga in the late 90s.

Coast residents recall special Prince Philip encounters

Coast residents have fondly recalled their own treasured encounters with the "lovely and nice" Prince Philip as the world continues to mourn his passing.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and husband of Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 99 on Friday.

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His death sparked a huge outpouring of grief across the world, with nation leaders, royals and the general public sharing special tributes.

While he never visited the Coast, a special few were able to meet the Queen's consort.

Diddillibah's Ben Tyler and wife Ebony were among those to meet and speak with Prince Philip when he visited Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga in the late 90s.

Mr Tyler said he was studying wine science at the time and had taken up a trainee winemaker position at the university's commercial winery.

While Ebony, Tyler's girlfriend at the time, was studying pharmacy, she did work on the vineyards at times and managed to sneak into the line to meet Prince Philip with the senior winemaker's permission.

Mr Tyler said the Duke of Edinburgh had been there to tour the university's new equestrian centre but also wanted to see the winery.

"He (Prince Philip) walked through with the university chancellor and we all lined up with senior the winemaker, assistant winemaker and couple of others and then Ebony was at the end of the line," Tyler said.

"He stopped at Ebony who was a last minute ring in and had a full on conversation with her and she started to blush and said 'I don't actually work here'.

"He just smiled and asked her what she did at the university.

"I reckon he spent what felt like five minutes yacking to her about the university's pharmacy which was brand new at the time and we were all waiting in line."

Mr Tyler said Prince Philip had been kind and happy to speak with everyone.

"He was lovely and really nice," he said.

"He took a few moments and I reckon we had a 30 seconds to one minute conversation and then he moved on to the next person.

"He seemed to be genuinely interested."

It's a moment he and wife Ebony treasure.

"We look at it now and think how nice and what a unique opportunity," he said.

"That's never ever going to happen again.

"Meeting royalty to begin with let alone (Prince Philip)."

They're not alone in their fond memories of the royal, with former Sunshine Coast councillor Greg Rogerson also meeting the Prince.

Mr Rogerson said he met Prince Philip while working as a motor mechanic at the Lotus Factory at Hethel in the United Kingdom.

Former Sunshine Coast councillor Greg Rogerson (sitting down) with Prince Philip watching on at the Lotus Cars Development factory in Hethel.
Former Sunshine Coast councillor Greg Rogerson (sitting down) with Prince Philip watching on at the Lotus Cars Development factory in Hethel.

He said he was about 28 at the time and had been busy working on an exhaust system for the DeLorean.

He was in the Powertrain Dyno Room testing the V6 PVR 2.85L engine when Prince Philip visited.

"In my eyes and after the brief five minute discussion I had with Prince Phillip he demonstrated to me that he was an avid mechanically minded person always eager and willing to learn," Mr Rogerson said.

"Although he was born in Europe and husband to the Queen he was down to earth and displayed no airs nor graces.

"He would have fitted readily into our Aussie culture and lifestyle."

Coast resident and avid royalist June Upton also paid tribute to the Duke.

Royal fan June Upton organised a high tea to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday a few years ago. Picture: Warren Lynam
Royal fan June Upton organised a high tea to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday a few years ago. Picture: Warren Lynam

While she never met him, Mrs Upton has long admired and followed the royal family.

She was saddened by the passing of Prince Philip.

"I just admired him so much and I've followed their life story all my life," she said.

"I was six years of age when I heard the Queen speak at the wedding (over the radio).

"I've treasured a Woman's Weekly of their wedding and have had that for over 70 years."

Mrs Upton, who regularly writes to the royal family, praised his dedication to wife Queen Elizabeth over their 70 year marriage.

"He was a man in a million," she said.

"I will remember him as being the most amazing man and wonderful husband and father and grandfather.

"And the most unbelievable consort to the Queen."



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