Prince Philip Movement
According to ancient tales, the son of a mountain spirit travelled over the seas to a distant land. There he married a powerful lady and in time would return to them. He was sometimes said to be a brother to John Frum of the cargo cult.
The people of the Yaohnanen area believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is this divine being. They had seen the respect accorded to Queen Elizabeth II by the colonial officials and concluded that her husband, Prince Philip, must be the son referred to in their legends.
It is unclear just when this belief came about, but it was probably some time in the 1950s or 1960s. It was strengthened by the royal couple's official visit to Vanuatu in 1974, when a few villagers had the opportunity to actually see Prince Philip from a distance. The Prince was not then aware of the cult, but it was brought to his attention several years later by John Champion, the British Resident Commissioner in the New Hebrides.
Champion suggested that Prince Philip send them a portrait of himself. He agreed and sent a signed official photograph. The villagers responded by sending him a traditional pig-killing club called a nal-nal. In compliance with their request, the Prince sent a photograph of himself posing with the club. Another photograph was sent in 2000. All three photographs were kept by Chief Jack Naiva, who died in 2009.
The cult in the news
On 27 September 2007, British television station Channel 4 broadcast Meet the Natives, a reality show about five Tanna men from the Prince Philip Movement on a visit to Britain. Their visit culminated in an off-screen audience with Philip, where gifts were exchanged, including a new photograph of the Prince.
In 2010 Australian journalist Amos Roberts visited Tanna and reported on the locals' celebration of Philip's 89th birthday, for SBS's magazine program Dateline.
In 2013, Man Belong Mrs Queen, a book by British writer Matthew Baylis, investigated the historical and anthropological origins of the movement and provided an account of the author's own stay on the island of Tanna.
- Shears, Richard (3 June 2006). "Is Prince Philip a god?". The Mail on Sunday (Yaohnanen Village, Vanuatu). Retrieved 2007-02-15.
- Squires, Nick (27 February 2007). "South Sea tribe prepares birthday feast for their favourite god, Prince Philip". Daily Telegraph.
- Shears, Richard (8 November 2009). "Heir to the tribe: South Pacific tribe who worship the Duke of Edinburgh want to meet Prince William". Mail Online. Retrieved 10 July 2010. "Sadly, the old chief of the tribe, Jack Naiva, has died in his mid-90s..."
- Hoggart, Paul (11 September 2007). "Meet the Natives". Broadcast.
- Roberts, Amos (8 August 2010). "Waiting for Philip". Broadcast.
- "An Idiot Abroad 2 Episode 1: Desert Island". Sky1 HD.
- Man Belong Mrs Queen Baylis, Matthew (2013) Old Street Publishing. ISBN 978-190869964-0
- Squires, Nick. Prince Philip, they hardly know ye, Christian Science Monitor, 8 June 2007, accessed 7 June 2007
- Squires, Nick. Is Prince Philip an island god?, BBC News, 10 June 2007, accessed 10 June 2007
- Adams, Guy. Strange island: Pacific tribesmen come to study Britain, The Independent, 20 November 2007