PHILIP’S first visit to Bournemouth was typical of the independent, quirky man the British public came to know over the past eight decades.

Many of the 10,000 who turned out to cheer their young Queen's dashing husband almost missed him because they were looking out for a grand car and plenty of outriders. Instead, "Hatless, and dressed in a grey lounge suit", he arrived during a heat haze driving "a comparatively small and old-fashioned car which was jammed in a stream of traffic".

Philip was greeted that blazing September day in 1949 by "church bells and hundreds of flags hung from shops and offices". He was visiting as president of the National Playing Fields Association and to captain his own cricketing XI, containing several England stars, against Hampshire at Dean Park.

“He's good enough to play for Hampshire,” one spectator noted, as his side won by a wicket. Following the match Philip delighted the crowds once again by waving at them from the balcony of the Kings Arms Hotel in Christchurch, as he dined there with Dennis Compton.

The informality of the day set the tone for all Philip's local sojourns. In April 1955 he arrived by helicopter at Barnardo's Parkstone Sea Training School, to complete a round of inspections and chatted informally to the boys. In the handicrafts room he jokingly pointed to a flower stand, asking: “Is that a launching platform for a missile?”

Bournemouth Echo: 25 July 2012 - The Queen pictured during her visit to the New Forest Show - Alan Titchmarsh and the Duke of Edinburgh in the show ring

Prince Philip and Alan Titchmarsh

Another boy was asked what the four pieces of wood he was holding would become. “It's a tea trolley,” explained the child. “In the embryonic stage,” smiled Philip. He also visited the sick-bay before flying back to Windsor.

Three months later he was back again, flying himself by helicopter to Lulworth, causing much consternation to the meet-and-greeters by jumping out port side, instead of starboard, before watching a mock battle.

In April 1958 he was back at Hurn, inspecting the Vickers-Armstrong aircraft premises and piloting a Viscount. Apprentices noted his "intimate knowledge" of the work they were doing.

The industrial and naval establishments of Dorset were to prove a strong pull for the Duke. In May 1961 he spent two-and-a-half hours inspecting the Military Engineering Establishment at Christchurch and three years late returned to the county to peruse HMS London, moored in Lyme Bay. Offered traditional naval hospitality, he declined, revealing: “I cannot abide rum.”

In May 1965 he visited Brockenhurst's Pile Barn as part of his Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and six months later flew into Hurn to take in the BAC1-11 factory there.

In May 1966 Philip arrived at Bryanston School en route from having controversially visited the biological warfare establishment at Porton Down. He had suggested the school put on a production to show off its abilities, rather than a ceremony, and in typical blunt style gave a speech in which he declared: “My suggestion, like so many of my other brilliant and original ideas, fell on deaf ears!”

His wit was on display again in July 1966 when he joined the Queen in King's Park to plant a tree. Philip shovelled in two spades of earth and joked: “That will do, I am a member of the union.” He told a council official he hoped "my tree won't die on me" and then visited the Victoria School where he questioned pupil Jim Best extremely closely about the workings of his wheelchair.

Bournemouth Echo:

Visit of HM The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to Poole to officially open the new RNLI buildings

Two years on and Philip returned by Royal Train, sleeping in a siding in Hamworthy, to activate the Winfrith nuclear reactor. “The next stage is to exploit this success to world markets,” he declared.

Within months he was back again, this time tank-driving at Bovington where he managed to smother the entire press party with pea-green vapour from the vehicle's smoke bomb.

Accompanying the Queen in July 1969, to open Poole Hospital, Philip was amused by June Bailey of Oakdale, who presented him with a red carnation, saying the nurses had asked her to give it to him. "I hope the patients are all behaving themselves,” he joked.

During the 1970s Philip visited on a number of occasions; sympathising at Hamworthy with Royal Marine wife Anne Piper who suffered a broken leg, and attending the borstal at Guy's Marsh where he chatted with 21 of the trainees about their sports adventure training.

At the end of that decade he showed he hadn't lost his way with the ladies when pensioner Ann Newman confessed her conversation with the Duke left her "trembling".

"He was very nice but I was so excited I couldn't think what to say to him,” she confided.

He delighted the younger generations, too, manfully lifting nine-year-old Tracey Sullivan over the barriers to present her flowers to the Queen at Poole Quay. As her mother observed: “You don't expect the Duke of Edinburgh to be lifting children over barriers, do you?"

Three weeks later he was back, accompanying his wife on a Maundy visit to the New Forest.

Bournemouth Echo: Tile Barn Outdoor Centre, Brockenhurst, New Forest, the Duke of Edinburgh meets some of the people taking part in his award acheme, The Duke of Edinburgh arrives at the centre

The Duke of Edinburgh meets people at Tile Barn Outdoor Centre, Brockenhurst, New Forest

In November 1980 he got a "stormy" reception from the audience at the Central Council of Physical Recreation's national conference at the Heathlands Hotel, after calling for more cohesion in sports bodies. He was better received by the Royal Marines at Hamworthy in 1982 when he met Commandant General and IRA bombing victim Sir Steuart Pringle, and he returned to the base in June 1984 with the Queen to watch exercise demonstrations.

Following an overnight stay at the Highcliff Hotel, Philip thanked organisers of his award scheme in December 1986 and he returned to the region in 1988 to open the New Forest Centre at Lyndhurst. He test-branded a door, signed the visitors book and looked delighted to see members of the press who were covering the visit contained in a sheep-pen.

Perhaps because of the travails which bedevilled his family during the 1990s, Philip was seen slightly less in the region, popping to Wytch Farm in 1990 and accompanying the Queen, as proud grandparents, to watch Zara and Peter Phillips perform at their school, Port Regis, where the Queen opened the new sports hall.

In 1998, he and the Queen returned, arriving by Royal Train in Poole and moving on to Queen Elizabeth's School in Wimborne, where one class got the shock of its life as the Duke of Edinburgh stuck his head through their window and shared a joke with pupil Matthew Williams.

In 2002 Philip revived memories of his first visit to the county by writing a personal letter to Bournemouth University, which now manages Dean Park, informing them: “It was a great occasion and I am glad to say that my team won the match against Hampshire.”

The rest of the decade brought a flurry of Philip visits when he accompanied the Queen to Bournemouth in July 2004, meeting AFC Bournemouth players, including captain Steve Fletcher, military veterans, and the Daily Echo's then editor, Neal Butterworth. They visited the RNLI training college where a Daily Echo photographer captured the affection still felt between them as they posed for a formal picture.

Five years on and it was Bovington again, where Philip "went off in all directions" examining tanks in the museum, receiving a birthday cake at Goldy's Farm shop, and inspecting the latest preparations for the Olympics at Weymouth.

His next visit was in the summer of 2012 as part of the mammoth Diamond Jubilee tour, visiting Sherborne and enthusing over an art exhibition in the ancient Abbey. As the tour made its last stop in July 2012 he was here again, this time accompanying his wife to the New Forest show, despite having suffered a severe infection a few weeks before.