The Prince Phillip Movement: A god among men
To some, Prince Phillip is just the husband of the Queen of England. But, to a small tribe of indigenous people on the island of Tanna in the Pacific Ocean, he is much, much more than that. He is quite literally a god, descended from the heavens to bless (or curse) the people of the tribe.
Located in the Vanuatu island chain, Tanna is home to a tribe of people that still live in a way as many of our ancestors did, thousands of years ago. Toiling throughout the day to provide food for one another, wearing traditional island garb, and being somewhat isolated from most of the outside world, the tribe is relatively normal in comparison to other tribes across the globe.
According to the tribe’s oral traditions, after the creation of the world, the mountain on the island gave birth to a son who then traveled to a distant land to marry a powerful woman and was destined to return to the island. Pictures of the prince line the walls of some of the communal huts and the flag of the United Kingdom flies proudly above some of the homes.
How these people came to worship a British royal who lives thousands of miles away from them is an incredible story that gives anthropologists a real-life look into how primitive people react to the outside world.
The husband (and third cousin on one side, second cousin on the other) of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip was born into Greek and Danish royalty. A member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, Phillip has been in the public eye his entire life, yet even he was surprised when, in the 1970s, he found out about a small Oceanic tribe who considered him a deity.
Colonized by the British, the Tanna people first observed British forces on the island in the late 1950s and their reverence for the Queen and assumed that her husband must be the “son of the mountain.” This belief grew after the Royal family’s official visit to the island in 1974 when some of the islanders were actually able to see the prince from a distance being greeted by colonial forces. The cars, clothing, and modernity of these outsiders impressed the tribespeople and inspired the movement. These glimpses of a foreign culture were enough to convince the Tanna people that these outsiders were from the heavens and deserved their worship and sacrifice.
Although much of the tribe still believes that Prince Phillip is going to return to the island in his godly form to shepherd them all to the heavens, some of the younger members of the tribe, with the help of education from missionaries, are beginning to doubt the mystique surrounding the Duke of Edinburgh. However, with a devastating storm hitting the island in mid-2015, many of the Tanna people even more strongly believe that this is further evidence of the prince’s coming return
More can be found out about the tribe in the video below: