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An island of white sand beaches in the South Pacific Ocean

The South Pacific tribe who worship Prince Philip believe he will now return

In Tanna, part of a South Pacific Ocean archipelago made up of 80 islands, the Yaohnanen tribe consider the Duke of Edinburgh a deity.

The ‘Prince Philip Movement’ came to light in the late 1950s and the unusual conviction originates in legend.

According to ancient tales existing long before the tribe’s awareness of Philip, a white man born of volcano spirit travelled overseas to marry a powerful woman, before returning to them.

They believe the duke was born in their homeland and was, until recently, keeping the flame of their culture alive in the UK.

It is believed that when the tribespeople first encountered British colonists they saw images of the royal family, concluding that the late duke must be their spiritual leader.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s arrival to Vanuatu on an official visit in 1974 further entrenched these beliefs.

Chief Jack of the Yaohnanen said: “I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform and I knew then that he was the true Messiah.

“To see him in the flesh like that, even though I know that deep inside he is more than flesh and bones.”

Initially, the duke was not aware of the tribe, but after having been informed, he sent a signed portrait of himself.

In return the Yaohnanen gifted him a traditional pig-killing club, which he posed alongside.

Each year, the natives of Tanna would hold a large celebration on the duke’s birthday, in the belief that he would return.

The occasion involves eating dancing and the ingestion of a ceremonial narcotic called Kava.

During the celebrations, they share tales of the Duke of Edinburgh’s prowess and his prophesised marriage to Queen Elizabeth II, as well as what they believe to be his magical powers.

The Yaohnanen people believe Philip had the power to influence world events, and was responsible for Barack Obama becoming president.

In 2007, a television programme called Meet The Natives saw five natives spend five weeks in the UK.

The documentary culminated in them meeting Prince Philip in Windsor, where they exchanged gifts.

The Prince Philip Movement is not the only such cult in Tanna.

It has its roots in the John Frum (John from America) Movement, which glorifies a figure often based on a US World War II Soldier.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s death has not marked the end of this movement.

The tribe believe that he now will return to them in spirit form and share the wealth of the British Crown.

To check out the rest of SWL’s Prince Philip coverage, click here.

Feature image by Wolfgang Reindl from Pixabay.

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