Prince Philip Movement

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Prince Philip in 1992, by Allan Warren.
Yaohnanen tribesmen show pictures of 2007 visit with Prince Philip

The Prince Philip Movement is a religious sect followed by the kastom people around Yaohnanen village on the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu.

The people of the Yaohnanen area believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is a divine being; the pale-skinned son of a mountain spirit and brother of John Frum. According to ancient tales, the son travelled over the seas to a distant land, married a powerful lady and would in time return. The villagers had observed the respect accorded to Queen Elizabeth II by colonial officials and concluded that her husband, Prince Philip, must be the son from their legends.[citation needed]

When the cult formed is unclear, but it is likely that it was sometime in the 1950s or 1960s. Its beliefs were strengthened by the royal couple's official visit to Vanuatu (then the New Hebrides) in 1974, when a few villagers had the opportunity to observe the Prince from afar. At the time, the Prince was not aware of the cult, but the matter was eventually brought to his attention by John Champion, the British Resident Commissioner in the New Hebrides, between 1975 and 1978.

The Resident Commissioner suggested that the Prince send them a portrait of himself. A signed official photograph was duly dispatched. The villagers responded by sending a traditional pig-killing club called a nal-nal. As requested, the Prince in return sent them a photograph of himself posing with the weapon. Another photograph was sent in 2000. All three photographs were kept by Chief Jack Naiva,[1][2] who died in 2009.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]

In 2011 the people of Yaohnanen village featured in an episode of the second series of An Idiot Abroad with Karl Pilkington.[6]

In 2013, Man Belong Mrs Queen, a book by the British writer Matthew Baylis investigated the historical and anthropological origins of the movement as well as providing an account of the author's own time on the island of Tanna.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shears, Richard (3 June 2006). "Is Prince Philip a god?". The Mail on Sunday (Yaohnanen Village, Vanuatu). Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  2. ^ Squires, Nick (27 February 2007). "South Sea tribe prepares birthday feast for their favourite god, Prince Philip". Daily Telegraph. 
  3. ^ 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..." 
  4. ^ Hoggart, Paul (11 September 2007). "Meet the Natives". Broadcast. 
  5. ^ Roberts, Amos (8 August 2010). "Waiting for Philip". Broadcast. 
  6. ^ "An Idiot Abroad 2 Episode 1: Desert Island". Sky1 HD. 
  7. ^ Man Belong Mrs Queen Baylis, Matthew (2013) Old Street Publishing. ISBN 978-190869964-0

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