Looking back on Prince Philip's most memorable visits to NZ, the Pacific

Prince Philip, the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch, made numerous trips to New Zealand and other parts of the Commonwealth before his retirement in 2017.

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Mourners are gathering both in the UK and New Zealand to remember the duke.

The prince died yesterday at the age of 99, sending many around the world into mourning.

1 NEWS looks back at the Duke of Edinburgh’s most memorable visits.

Elizabeth II was newly crowned and newly appointed the head of the Commonwealth when she and Prince Philip visited New Zealand for Christmas in 1953.

The royal excitement was cut short just one day later by one of the country’s darkest moments, with scores killed in the Tangiwai railway disaster.

The then-Duke broke his scheduled itinerary to meet survivors and attend the state funeral.

Over the next month, Prince Philip continued building his longstanding relationship with the peoples of the Pacific.

He returned to New Zealand on a flying visit as part of a world tour, taking local interest in our local industries, sport and culture.

A Crown contract with Māori was celebrated on a royal visit to Waitangi – an agreement which remains controversial to this day.

In Christchurch in 1974, he declared the Commonwealth Games open, and various other trips saw him honouring New Zealand icons and everyday Kiwis.

Prince Philip also visited our Pacific neighbours, including Tonga, Samoa and Fiji – Commonwealth countries under wife Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

In Vanuatu, villages on Tana Island worship the so-called Prince Philip movement, believing he descended down from one of their spirit ancestors.

People on the streets of New Zealand today also expressed their condolences to the royal family for their loss. 

"Sympathy for the family, of course, and for those who knew him, his very good friends," one woman said. 

"He probably didn't get to 100 to get his letter from the Queen," one man joked. "He was only just short one, wasn't he?" 

"He was quite funny, like he was the funniest member of the royal family and never really took things too seriously so it's going to be sad to lose that character in the royal family," one woman added.  

It's a royal life now commiserated and celebrated by an entire empire - a long way away from the Duke's home in Britian.