Why is Prince Philip Worshiped by a Tribe in the Pacific Nation of Vanuatu?

Prince Philip

Prince Philip | Yui Mok/AFP/Getty Images

Prince Philip is definitely a colorful character and over the years has become one of the most well-liked members of the royal family. You may have heard about how popular Queen Elizabeth II’s husband is these days and how he’s the hands-down favorite among palace staffers, but did you know that he’s actually worshiped by a tribe in the South Pacific? Yes, Her Majesty’s husband is worshiped by villagers in the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu.

Here’s more on the tribe’s beliefs about the Duke of Edinburgh and why those who work for him at the palace like him so much.

Palace staffers love Prince Philip

According to Matt Smith, who played Prince Philip in the Netflix series The Crown, the duke is certainly the all-out favorite among palace staffers.

“All the research I did found him to be brilliantly funny, very clever, very popular. In the royal house he’s the most popular of all of them,” Smith told Variety. “If you’ve talked to any of the staff, Philip’s the one they all love really.”

Smith added that “The royal protocol hasn’t dogged him in quite the same way his whole life and there’s a sort of rebellion in him and a naughtiness and a cheekiness. I think he’s quite affable and open by all accounts with the staff. They all love him.”

Why the tribe in Vanuatu worships him

Well, Prince Philip’s popularity extends much further south than London as a tribe in the Pacific island country of Vanuatu believe he is a god.

Yep, that’s right. The Prince Philip movement is a religious sect followed by the Kastom people in the Yaohnanen village. Legend has it that the prince was born to fulfill an ancient prophecy as the son of an ancient mountain spirit which would one day take the form of a light-skinned man, travel overseas, marry a powerful woman, and eventually return to the island with his wife.

When the royal family visited Vanuatu in 1974 as part of a Commonwealth Tour, those who observed the respect given to Queen Elizabeth II by the colonial officials became convinced that her husband was the man referred to in the legend.

Chief Jack Naiva, a respected warrior in the culture, greeted their royal yacht and caught sight of Philip on board. “I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform,” Naiva said. “I knew then that he was the true messiah.”

The Villagers have even corresponded with Buckingham Palace and sent Philip a gift of 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.

“For them Philip is a tabu man — human but possessing qualities and powers that make him sacred,” said British author Matthew Baylis who spent time living with the villagers.

Prince Charles visited the island where his father is revered in 2018 but the Kastom people weren’t too familiar with him since he doesn’t fit into their legend. As for Charles’ father though, the villagers believe that even in his advanced age Prince Philip will one day return to their island.

Read more: How Old Did Prince Philip’s Parents Live to Be?

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