Prince Philip tribute: Tribe who worshipped Duke as a God to hold ‘sacred’ ceremony

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After hearing the news of Philip’s passing, a tribe in the small island nation of Vanuatu will celebrate his life with an “important” act reserved for only the most powerful figures. Kirk Huffman who is a research associate at the Australian Museum revealed a tribe on the island of Tanna will mark the ceremony of Philip’s spirit leaving his body. The tribe is part of a group of villages know collectively as the Prince Philip Movement and have worshipped the Duke like a God since the 1970s.

This weekend, Mr Huffman revealed they will proceed with prestigious ceremonial practices such as drinking kava.

Drinking kava was described as a “sacred act” by the tribe and is one of the most important elements of the funeral service.

By drinking kava, the tribe marks the “liquid key that opens the door” between the physical and spiritual world.

Mr Huffman said: “Through the medium of kava, one can pass messages back and forth between those worlds.

“Traditionally, the purpose of drinking kava is to ensure the continuity of life as it should be.

“Through the use of kava, you can get better rain, better sun, better crop fertility, all sorts of things.

“Because you put these requests into the world through the kava.

“There’ll be that same sort of thing in Tanna for Philip’s spirit.

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“There’ll be messages and ideas being sent and received, that will be very important.”

Although Philip never visited the island of Tanna, the movement began in 1971 when Philip visited the northern island of Malekula.

While there, he visited a separate tribe and took part in several spiritual activities.

By taking part in the rituals, Philip became “greatly respected” by the tribe and has since been regarded like a God.

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Mr Huffman added: “Although Prince Philip never visited Tanna, chiefs from the island saw him take part in the rituals, and that was greatly respected.

“And in February of 1974, he and the Queen came through on the Royal Yacht Britannia and they sailed down past the island of Tanna.

“A lot of photographs of him would have been circulating among the group, and some of the things that he may have said or done during those visits may have been some of the things to help people in that part of Tanna sort of focus on him and think ‘maybe he’s the one we’ve been looking for for so long’.”

Following the death of the Duke last week, Mr Huffman added how the tribe had been saddened to hear of his passing after having such a long association with the Duke.

He concluded: “Those in the movement have been very saddened to hear about his death.

“As soon as the messages about his death came they had meetings.

“They got leaders, important people from two, possibly three different factions of the group together at a meeting to sort out how they’re going to deal with the funerary situation.

“They held funerary speeches last weekend. There may be special dances.

“Dancing there is a highly respected form of saying something powerful, and there may be some that have already gone on.

“There may be a periodic display of some of the movement’s Prince Philip memorabilia – photographs, letters, that sort of thing.

“There’ll also be more periodic speeches by various traditional leaders there.”

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