Prince Philip Movement

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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. It is a cargo cult of the Yaohnanen tribe,[1] who believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is a divine being.


According to ancient Yaohnanen tales, the son of a mountain spirit travelled over the seas to a distant land. There, he married a powerful woman and in time would return to them. He was sometimes said to be a brother to John Frum.

The people of the Yaohnanen area believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is a 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 sect, but it was brought to his attention several years later by John Champion, the British Resident Commissioner in the New Hebrides.[2]

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,[3] who died in 2009.

Anne, Princess Royal, visited Tanna in October 2014.[4][5] She is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. She had visited Vanuatu in 1974, but had not previously travelled to the island.[6]

On 27 September 2007, Channel 4 broadcast Meet the Natives, a reality show about five Tanna men from the Prince Philip Movement on a visit to Britain. Their trip culminated in an off-screen audience with Philip, where gifts were exchanged, including a new photograph of the Prince.[7]

The sect in the news[edit]

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.[1]

In 2011 the people of Yaohnanen village were featured in an episode of the second series of An Idiot Abroad with Karl Pilkington.[8]

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.[9]

Kate Humble talks to locals about the movement in Kate Humble: Into the Volcano, a TV documentary about Mount Yasur broadcast on BBC Two in January 2015.[10]

In 2018, the Australian podcast Zealot documented the Prince Philip Movement in episode 13.[11]


  1. ^ a b Roberts, Amos (8 August 2010). "Waiting for Philip". Broadcast. Archived from the original on 30 September 2014.
  2. ^ "The island that worships Prince Philip is disappointed by his retirement – Royal Central". Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  3. ^ Squires, Nick (27 February 2007). "South Sea tribe prepares birthday feast for their favourite god, Prince Philip". The Daily Telegraph.
  4. ^ "Vanuatu daily news digest". Vanuatu Daily Digest. 31 October 2014. Archived from the original on 2 September 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Princess Anne on the island where they think her father Prince Philip is a god". Daily Express. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Princess Anne to visit island where Prince Philip is worshipped as a god". Metro. 28 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  7. ^ Hoggart, Paul (11 September 2007). "Meet the Natives". Broadcast. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  8. ^ "An Idiot Abroad 2 Episode 1: Desert Island". Sky1 HD.
  9. ^ Man Belong Mrs Queen Baylis, Matthew (2013) Old Street Publishing. ISBN 978-190869964-0
  10. ^ Kate Humble: Into the Volcano, BBC Two, 8 to 9 pm, 4 January 2015
  11. ^ Zealot 13 Prince Philip Movement with Rowdie Walden, retrieved 16 November 2018

External links[edit]