Prince Philip: Island tribe will wail for the man they worshipped

A tribe in the remote island nation of Vanuatu who saw Philip as a god will greet his death with ritual wailing and ceremonial dancing, an expert said.

Saturday, 10th April 2021, 11:30 am
Updated Saturday, 10th April 2021, 11:32 am
A person holds a photograph of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh outside Windsor Castle, Berkshire, following the announcement of his death at the age of 99. Picture date: Friday April 9, 2021. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria Jones
A person holds a photograph of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh outside Windsor Castle, Berkshire, following the announcement of his death at the age of 99. Picture date: Friday April 9, 2021. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria Jones

The group, based in villages on the island of Tanna in the former Anglo-French colony, revered the Duke of Edinburgh and believed him to be a reincarnation of an ancient warrior who left the island to fight a war.

The heavily spiritual group in Yaohnanen and surrounding villages felt the leader of the fighters would return to the islands with a rich white wife.

Kirk Huffman, an authority on what is known as the Prince Philip Movement, told the Daily Telegraph: “I imagine there will be some ritual wailing, some special dances.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“There will be a focus on the men drinking kava (an infusion made from the root of a pepper plant) – it is the key to opening the door to the intangible world.

“On Tanna it is not drunk as a means of getting drunk. It connects the material world with the non-material world.”

He added the islanders could continue their beliefs with Prince Charles who most recently visited Vanuatu in 2018.

There, the Prince of Wales met Jimmy Joseph, from the village of Yaohnanen, during a tour of the country, formerly known as the New Hebridies.

The prince warmly shook Mr Joseph’s hand as he was presented with a gift.

Mr Joseph said: “I gave him a walking stick for his father made by the hands of the Prince Philip Movement.

“I told him a lot of people in the movement have now died but there are some still living.

“The prince said he would deliver the message personally.”

It is thanks to our loyal readers that we can continue to provide the trusted news, analysis and insight that matters to you. For unlimited access to our unrivalled local reporting, you can take out a subscription here and help support the work of our dedicated team of reporters.