Members of a South Pacific tribe, who have worshipped Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as a god for decades, are reportedly considering launching a political movement following his death.
Members of the Prince Philip Movement who live in a group of remote villages in the forests of the volcanic island of Tanna in Vanuatu have reportedly been mourning the death of the man they worshipped as a living deity, according to The Telegraph.
Following the news of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, grieving villagers have reportedly been holding meetings to discuss how to pay their respects to Philip. The villagers are now reportedly considering the option of launching a political movement in his honor.
An anthropologist broke the news of Philip’s death to the villagers
The islanders were reportedly informed about his death by Jean-Pascal Wahé, an anthropologist who lives on the west coast of the island.
Wahé reportedly drove to the remote villages of Yakel and Yaohnanen where Prince Philip’s devotees live to break the sad news of his death.
Kirk Huffman, another anthropologist who worked in Vanuatu for years, confirmed that the villagers were holding meetings to decide how to pay their respects to the Duke. He said they will likely hold a funerary ceremony for Prince Philip.
According to Huffman, there are two “slightly antagonistic” factions among the villagers, but he was confident they will resolve their differences and come to an agreement about how to proceed with the rituals to honor the Duke of Edinburgh.
A native source revealed plans to start a political movement
Huffman said that a son of one of the chiefs from the villages revealed they may form a political party that will rival another religious movement native to Tanna called the John Frum Movement.
Members of the Prince Philip Movement have been discussing how to start a political party similar to the John Frum Movement’s political party that has representation in Vanuatu’s national parliament.
The John Frum religious movement also started a political party
A political movement in honor of the Duke of Edinburgh won’t be the first of its kind among the people of Tanna Island.
Tanna Island’s famous John Frum Movement also started a political party years back. They were able to send an MP to Port Vila to represent them in Vanuatu’s national parliament.
John Frum is a mythical messianic figure that some of the villagers portray as a U.S. serviceman. U.S. servicemen were stationed in Vanuatu during World War II and they arrived on the islands with large quantities of supplies. Members of the John Frum movement believe that the mythical figure will return to their island in the future with a cargo of supplies that will make the villagers wealthy and prosperous again.
The emphasis on cargo explains why anthropologists describe the John Frum Movement and similar movements as “cargo cults.”
Members of the John Frum movement still hold ceremonies every year during which they dress up in costumes similar to U.S. army uniforms and perform military-style parades under representations of the American Stars and Stripes.
The Prince Philip Movement started many years ago
The Prince Philip Movement started years ago after some of the islanders linked Prince Philip with an ancient religious prophecy. The movement reportedly gained traction after Philip visited Vanuatu — then known as the New Hebrides — in 1974.
Prince Philip corresponded with members of the movement after he visited. He once sent them an autographed photo of himself and the islanders responded by sending him a “nal-nal,” a club that villagers use to slaughter pigs.
The Prince also responded by sending them a photo of himself wielding the nal-nal.
Prince Philip’s photographs are among the movement’s most prized possessions.