Mourning tribe who idolised Prince Philip, name Prince Charles as successor
Anthropologist Kirk Huffman says the Prince Philip Movement will continue with Prince Charles as the remote island tribe's new deity.
The Kastom tribe of Tanna, one of the islands on Vanuatu in the South West Pacific, worshipped Prince Philip as a “mountain deity” in what has become known throughout the decades as the “Prince Philip Movement”.
The Telegraph reported that villagers on the remote island responded to the 99-year-old Prince Philip’s death on Friday 9 April with ritual wailing and beverages, as well as dancing.
The religious sect is thought to have been established in the 1950s or 1960s and was greatly strengthened when Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II visited Vanuatu on their official duties in 1974.
Prince Charles next in line
Now the movement will continue with the Duke of Edinburgh’s first-born Prince Charles, who visited the tribe in April 2018, anthropologist Kirk Huffman, who is honorary curator at Vanuatu Cultural Center, predicted in an interview with the New York Post.
The 72-year-old Prince of Wales is heir to the British throne.
According to the Mirror, Prince Charles visited Vanuatu in 2018, where he was made “High Chief” with the name of Mal Menaringmanu. The prince partook in some rituals and even took a sip from a cup of “special kava”, only last consumed when the Duke of Edinburgh visited 44 years previously.
The beginnings of the Prince Philip Movement
Former Buckingham Palace spokesperson Dickie Arbiter explained to Newsweek how the duke came to be worshipped by the islanders.
“One of the oarsmen taking them ashore was a chap from Tanna called Chief Jack,” Arbiter said. “He thought Philip was a warrior from a long time ago who had come down from the mountains and gone off to England in search of a bride.”
“The bride is Mrs Queen, so Philip is the god,” he said.
“He is a god, not a man,” village chief Jack Naiva told the Christian Science Monitor in a 2007 interview. “Sometimes we hear his voice, but we can’t see him.”
It was reported at the time that islanders believed Philip’s decision to retire from his public duties in 2017, triggered a tropical cyclone.
Process of ‘recycling’
In February this year when the 99-year-old duke was in hospital, The New York Post asked Huffman about how Prince Philip’s death might affect the tribe.
“From the believers’ point of view, he is not English but from their island,” Huffman explained.
“The original spirit — of which he is in the process of recycling — is one of their own people.”
“They have always hoped that he would still return in person to visit, but the likelihood of that is now very unlikely,” Huffman said at the time. “But they will imagine his spirit might come back to the island.”
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