Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April aged 99, made a number of official visits to Hong Kong, both independently as part of an Asian tour in 1959, and as part of larger royal visits in 1975 and 1986. A more complex character than sensationalised newspaper headlines would suggest, much was made throughout his life – and reamplified after his death – of Prince Philip’s allegedly sexist, racist and misogynistic “gaffes”. Far more positive aspects, as ever, lurked unreported. In 1976, a young Englishwoman, Julia Kneale, was about to finish her veterinary medicine degree at Edinburgh University. She was also serving in the Territorial Army, and Prince Philip visited to inspect their detachment, having flown there himself – among other achievements, he was an accomplished pilot. When he asked the young woman on parade what she intended to do after graduation, she said she had considered joining the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, but she would be the first woman to do so and so was undecided. Prince Philip immediately replied, “If I were you, I’d burn my bra, blaze a trail and join them!” – much to the amusement of the Commanding Officer and Regimental Sergeant Major, who overheard the exchange. Greatly encouraged, and not for a second offended, Kneale subsequently became the first female vet in the British Army. Some years later, Prince Philip visited her unit and, immediately recognising her, came over for a lengthy chat, evidently delighted to see someone else’s success and achievement. She says modestly that while “I didn’t burn my bra, I did blaze a trail” – and it was quite a trail. She was Commander Veterinary with Head Quarters British Forces in Hong Kong in the early 1990s (when we became friends), and finally retired as a full colonel. She had been awarded a Military MBE for gallantry many years earlier for displaying outstanding courage and leadership when her working dog unit in Northern Ireland came under attack – timed, for maximum carnage, as the animals were being fed – by Irish Republican Army terrorists. Her solid leadership and trailblazing career, encouraged by Prince Philip’s pithy remark, still echoes in Hong Kong. A couple of years ago, out walking late one afternoon near Shek Kong, I encountered a middle-aged chap with his dogs; it turned out that, many years earlier, he had been a corporal in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, based at Borneo Lines, just across the path from where I then worked. Don’t forget Prince Philip’s connection to Hong Kong’s dental hospital Little remembered today, Hong Kong had its own, mostly Chinese-manned, British Army unit – the Hong Kong Military Service Corps. After initial training at their depot on Stonecutters Island, soldiers joined Regular units, such as the Royal Signals, the Royal Corps of Transport, Royal Army Medical Corps or the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. The latter mostly dealt with the training and deployment of working dogs, and also helped train police and customs dogs. Asked if he remembered Colonel Kneale, his face lit up immediately: “Oh yes! One was one, and two was two with her! Very hard working, she.” Then he turned to me, with a look of awe – “You know Colonel Kneale?” More than two decades later, there was nothing whatsoever to be gained or lost from remembering a long ago commanding officer with respect; he could as easily have sniffed disdainfully and said, “Oh yeah, her”. Directly and indirectly, Prince Philip’s straightforward ripostes, salty humour and “get on with it” manner encouraged many more people than they offended. Echoes of that encouragement – as the corporal indicated – remain today. It is worth remembering and saluting, when courage in leadership in contemporary Hong Kong, of whatever gender, is so glaringly, pitifully, pathetically absent.