An aviation heritage centre in Moray believes Prince Philip’s support in its early days was vital to its success today.
The Duke of Edinburgh was Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Kinloss and made regular visits to the north-east military base.
His fondness for the station, which was just miles from where he went to school at Gordonstoun, led to him taking a keen interest in operations there.
Duke’s support helped save final Kinloss Nimrod
When it was announced in 2010 that the base would close, it devastated the duke – who reportedly turned down another RAF appointment due to the special place Kinloss had in his heart.
And when he learned of the group of Morayvia enthusiasts, who came together in 2011 to save a Nimrod from the scrap heap, he pledged his support to the campaign.
The plane that was preserved was later christened Duke of Edinburgh to mark the prince’s support of the project’s early days.
And Prince Philip made a personal private visit with the Queen in 2014 to see the Nimrod in Kinloss for himself after it had been bedecked with his title and royal emblem.
Today the aircraft can continue to be seen at the end of the runway from the roadside of the B9011 Findhorn road.
Morayvia director Marc Macrae said the duke’s support for the group in its early days was vital to.
It is now a four-star visitor attraction.
Mr Macrae said: “He had a long association with the Moray area obviously through Gordonstoun but also through RAF Kinloss.
“When we got the Nimrod we approached him with a view to naming it in his honour to remember his time in this area, which we did with his permission.
“But he also wrote a letter of support for us at the time we were trying to save the Nimrod.
“The lord lieutenant at the time approached him to inform him of what we were trying to do and we received a personal letter back wishing us all the best.
“Although it was a very simple letter, it did open doors for us, it encouraged us, and without it I don’t think we would have got to where we are today.”
Prince Philip’s special connection with RAF Kinloss
Prince Philip made a number of visits to RAF Kinloss over the years, including opening the base’s mountain rescue building, inspecting personnel during the unveiling of colours and the ultimate disbandment of the squadrons in 2011.
However, his most poignant visit came in January 2007 when he attended a memorial for 14 airmen who died when their Nimrod crashed while on operation in Afghanistan.
Moray Lord Lieutenant, Major General Seymour Monro, said: “Prince Philp was a frequent visitor to Moray.
“He was Colonel in Chief successively of The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, the Queen’s Own Highlanders and The Highlanders.
“He visited the regiments in Moray and in the Highlands as well as overseas.
“And he was Honorary Air Commodore at RAF Kinloss and was hugely disappointed when it ceased to be an RAF station.
“He last visited Moray in 2014, when he accompanied Her Majesty on a visit to RAF Lossiemouth and to 39 Engineer Regiment at Kinloss Barracks.
“Prince Philip will be remembered as a strong, courageous, straight talking and fun loving man.
“He gave great leadership to so many, whether it was the young, whether it was encouraging technology and enterprise in business, or encouraging sporting activities and events.
“He was central to the continuous updating of the monarchy over the years.”