Prince Philip: Vanuatu tribe that worshipped the Duke of Edinburgh holds mourning ceremony

The Pacific island tribe worshipped the Duke of Edinburgh thanks to a local myth

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Devotees of Prince Philip held a mourning ceremony in his honour on Monday on the South Pacific island of Tanna in Vanuatu.

Villagers held photographs of the Duke of Edinburgh, and spoke of "opening the road for his spirit to grow".

Philip, husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and who had been at her side throughout her 69-year reign, died at Windsor Castle on Friday, aged 99.

"We allow the kava to clear the way to allow for his spirit to come back and live with us," chief Jack Malia told the villagers, speaking of the traditional drink. "The same spirit will grow inside one of his family and one day we will reconnect the people of Tanna and England."

A man holds a picture of Britain's Prince Philip as late Duke's devotees hold a mourning ceremony in his honour on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu in this screengrab taken from a video on April 12, 2021. REUTERS TV via REUTERS

"He is dead but he has a big family, who will live with his legacy. See all the pictures we have of him here. He is a good man."

Philip maintained a respectful 50-year relationship with the group that venerated him based on their shared respect for tradition.

The villagers would perform daily prayers for the duke's blessing of their banana and yam crops, and would place photos of him in village homes, including one from 1980 in which he is holding a club made and sent to London by the islanders.

No one knows exactly where the group's special interest in Philip stemmed from, but one theory is that it's based on their legend of the pale-skinned son of a local mountain God who ventured across the seas to look for a rich and powerful woman to marry.

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.