Prince Philip devotees on Vanuatu hold mourning ceremony in his honour

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    A tribe in the South Pacific that worshipped the Duke of Edinburgh as a living god will likely transfer their allegiance to Prince Charles, a leading anthropologist has said.

    The Duke has for decades been worshipped as a spirit or god by a group of villages on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, formerly an Anglo-French colony known as the New Hebrides.

    The worship of Prince Philip as a god is a result of the melding of traditional customary beliefs – known in pidgin English as kastom – with some of the tenets of Christianity, including the idea of the Second Coming of Christ, which the Tannese learned from missionaries.

    Their veneration of the prince fitted comfortably with an ancient prophecy that a man from Tanna would venture far away in search of a powerful woman to marry.

    The Duke’s cult-like status received a boost when he paid a state visit to the New Hebrides, as it was then known, in 1974.

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    Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean nation made up of roughly 80 islands that stretch 1,300 kilometers. The islands offer scuba diving at coral reefs, underwater caverns and wrecks such as the WWII-era troopship SS President Coolidge. Harborside Port Vila, the nation’s capital and economic center, is on the island of Efate. The city is home to the Vanuatu National Museum, which explores the nation’s Melanesian culture. 

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