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Prince Charles pays tribute to Prince Philip during visit to 'special place'

It holds special memories for the royal family

The Prince of Wales visited Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth on Thursday, of which he said, "has a rather special place in the hearts of my family". Charles, 73, paid tribute to the Queen and his late father, the Duke of Edinburgh, as he presided over the Lord High Admiral's Divisions parade.

"Britannia Royal Naval College has a rather special place in the hearts of my family. My father, as Lord High Admiral himself, was extremely proud of his links to this College, and it was here that my mother and father first met in the Captain's garden, while my grandfather, King George VI, carried out the inspection of your predecessors.  

"For myself, it is somewhat alarming to think that fifty years ago I was standing where you are as part of Blake Division on the eve of my own naval service which, to this day, I still look back on with great fondness and pride."

READ: The Queen cancels pre-Christmas family lunch 'with regret'

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WATCH: Prince Philip's best family moments

The Queen first met her future husband at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in 1939, when the then Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was tasked to look after the then 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth.

She was 21 when Buckingham Palace announced the couple's engagement in July 1947.

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The Duke of Edinburgh at the naval college in 1958

Elizabeth and Philip tied the knot in November that year and enjoyed 73 years of marriage together until the Duke's death in April 2021.

Prince Charles followed in his father's footsteps and enrolled at the naval college in 1971. He then served on the guided-missile destroyer, HMS Norfolk, as well as HMS Minerva and HMS Jupiter.

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Prince Charles makes an inspection

In his speech, the future king spoke about his time at the college, saying: "The lessons I learnt remain with me through the decades and I certainly sat more upright than usual when arriving this morning.

"Indeed, it was whilst here that I learnt about the Fleet Air Arm and realised that it was the specialisation I wanted to pursue. My very first flight from Norton (which I now hear is a Lidl shop, at the top of the hill) convinced me of that.  

"Each one of you will discover your own particular skills within the service, amongst which to bear in mind is the vital importance of being able to maintain a sense of humour."

He then joked: "Now, of course, may not be the time to tell you how my signature came to be on the Wardroom ceiling or how I understand I still retain the fastest time for transiting the internal College corridor…"

Prince Charles' outing comes as the Queen has been forced to cancel her pre-Christmas family lunch at Windsor Castle, amid rising COVID-19 cases.

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