Pamela Gates once found herself in conversation with the Duke of Edinburgh at the British Embassy in Rio de Janeiro. Her husband, Kevin, was a diplomat posted to Brazil with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs. Prince Philip asked Mrs Gates where she was from. "I told him Canberra, to which he replied in his normal manner, 'Don't be ridiculous, nobody is from Canberra'," Mrs Gates recalled on Saturday, after Prince Philip's death was announced. "On reflection, from the standpoint of 1962, he was not far wrong." Perhaps it wasn't a surprising remark from the Duke of Edinburgh, who once went on the BBC World Service and declared Canberra was a city without a soul. He said specially built capital cities, like Canberra, had "tremendous advantages from an administrative point of view". "I think its practical advantages are greater than its advantages to the citizen," he said. "I think any completely planned structure of that kind is always going to miss a little something of the human cussedness which makes a town worth living in. "And I think one of the difficulties with all these, like Washington - another one - and Ottawa to a certain extent, they lack ... I don't know how one would describe it. They lack soul." The comments, made in 1965, made the front page of The Canberra Times, prompting a healthy amount of outrage. Advisory Councillor Ann Dalgarno said at the time the comments were "a regrettable statement from so eminent a gentleman". "Canberra people certainly do not lack 'the human cussedness which makes a town worth living in', as the Duke put it. I just wish he had been here during the milk war, and the more recent egg war." The National Capital Development Commission, however, declined to comment. But for someone with that impression of Australia's national city, Prince Philip certainly made plenty of return trips to the place. His first visit was in 1940, seven years before his marriage to Princess Elizabeth. In the course of his long life, Prince Philip would return to Canberra a further 15 times, most recently in October 2011, aged 90. On March 18, 1940, Prince Philip of Greece, as he was then known, signed the Prime Minister's visitors' book when he was a midshipman in the battleship HMS Ramillies. He returned in 1954, accompanying his wife, the young Queen Elizabeth II. In those days, his grey morning suit blended in so well with a garden party crowd he could pass through almost unnoticed among 3500 guests at Government House. But the Duke never missed an opportunity to advocate for the protection of wildlife, including when he opened the Royal Australian Mint in Deakin in February 1965. He looked approvingly at the designs for decimal coins to be introduced the following year. "Having had a good look at them, I simply cannot resist the temptation to beat another drum for a moment and say that I hope the animals shown in the designs will also be allowed to exist and live in the wild," he told the crowd of about 600 official guests. "These animals are unique to Australia and only Australians can save them from extinction."