Remote island tribe that worshipped Prince Philip as a 'god' will mourn him by ritually wailing

Remote island tribe that worshipped Prince Philip as a 'god' will mourn him by ritually wailing
The son of a local chief holds official portraits of Prince Philip on the remote island of Tanna in Vanuatu on August 6, 2010.TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP via Getty Image
  • Prince Philip, who died on Friday, was worshipped as a god by members of a Vanuatu tribe.
  • The South Pacific islanders will ritually wail to mourn his death, according to an anthropologist.
  • Prince Charles is now expected to be deified.

The Prince Philip Movement, a religious cult popular with members of a Vanuatu tribe, is known for believing that the late Duke of Edinburgh was a god.

Those on the remote South Pacific Island of Tanna thought that Prince Philip was a deity because of an ancient legend of a son of a mountain spirit who married a powerful woman. The beliefs were solidified after a 1974 visit to the island by Queen Elizabeth II's husband. The news of his death will, unsurprisingly, hit the islanders hard. Kirk Huffman, an anthropologist who has studied indigenous groups in Vanuatu, told The New York Post that he believes the group will be in "grief-stricken" mourning.
"There will be ritual wailing and also a series of dances that encapsulate parts of the island's history," Huffman said.

The Prince Philip Movement had hoped that their deity would visit again, in-person, he said. Now, they imagine his "spirit" might return to the island, Huffman added.

Jean-Pascal Wahe of the Vanuatu Cultural Center also told The Post that members of the religious cult will be devastated by the news.

"They will be very upset when they hear what happened," he said before departing to the island to inform them of Prince Philip's passing.

"The prince was a very important man to us all and it's a great loss," Wahe said. "I was very upset to hear the news myself and it is now my duty to abandon my plans for the weekend with my family to drive to tell the others." Adherents of the movement are likely to deify the next in line to the throne, according to the Independent.

Prince Charles, who visited the island in 2018, is already an honorary chief. He is now expected to be worshipped as a god, Huffman told The Telegraph.