Duke’s spirit still lives with us, say island tribe who saw him as a god
THE tribespeople of a tiny island in the Pacific who revered Prince Philip as a god are among the mourners most affected by his death.
In our exclusive picture on the right, men from a village on Tanna in Vanuatu – 10,000 miles from Buckingham Palace – stand in silent grief.
Elder Albi Nagia, who travelled to Britain to meet the Duke in 2007, held a treasured framed photo of him and told the Sunday Mirror: “We are very sad and shocked. But we still believe Prince Philip’s spirit is here
with us in the village.” During the Duke’s prolonged stay in hospital last month, the people of Yaohnanen spent weeks holding ceremonial prayer vigils that involved drinking kava – a mild narcotic made from crushed roots – to help aid his recovery.
Last night they were making plans to mourn him with a huge communal feast.
For this, they will slaughter pigs and cook the national dish of laplap – a baked casserole made with green bananas and sometimes flying-fox bats.
The Duke’s gained his godlike status on the island in 1974 after former chief Jack
Malia paddled out to greet the royal yacht Britannia when it visited Vanuatu.
He saw Philip resplendent in his white naval uniform which, he said, confirmed a prophecy that a man from Tanna, the son of a god, had gone to Britain to find a wife – and that when he brought her back, the island would enjoy eternal peace and prosperity.
Only 111 people now live in Yaohnanen but the impact of Philip’s death is such that many others among Tanna’s 29,000strong population are expected to attend the village’s mourning ceremonies.