A tribe in the remote island nation of Vanuatu who hailed Prince Philip as a god will mark his death with ritual wailing and ceremonial dancing, an expert has said.
The villagers believed the Duke of Edinburgh to be a reincarnation of an ancient warrior who left the archipelago to fight a war.
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The heavily spiritual tribe in Yaohnanen on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu, in the South Pacific Ocean, believed the leader of the fighters would return with a rich, white wife.
Anthropologists believe Philip, who fitted the bill by marrying the Queen, became linked to the legend in the 1960s when Vanuatu was an Anglo-French colony known as the New Hebrides.
Philip had maintained a respectful 50-year relationship with the tribe before his death on Friday.
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.
“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.”
The veneration of Prince Philip by the tribe was one of the more curious aspects of his life.
The villagers’ special interest in him manifested itself in daily prayers for his blessing of their banana and yam crops.
He also featured in photos at villagers’ homes – including one of the duke in a suit in 1980, holding a club made and sent to London by the islanders.
Mr Huffman, a Sydney-based anthropologist who spent 18 years in Vanuatu, said the islanders’ honour of Philip is unlikely to cease following his death, although it may change form.
However, he added it is too early to know what the group will make of his death since there is limited access to electricity and mobile phones.
He added that the tribe’s belief system is not tied to the monarchy and so it is unclear if they will now venerate Prince Charles in the same way.
The Prince of Wales met a man named Jimmy Joseph in the village of Yaohnanen when he visited Vanuatu in 2018.
Charles 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.”