Prince Philip Worshipped As A God In Younanen, Vanuatu

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Villagers in Younanen, Vanuatu believe the late Duke of Edinburgh was the son of a local mountain deity who married a powerful woman and have prayed to him since the 1960s

The late Prince Philip has been worshipped as a god by a tribe on a Pacific island for more than 50 years.

Villagers in Younanen, a remote settlement in Vanuatu, believe the Duke of Edinburgh was the son of a mountain god.

Locals reportedly pray to him daily to ask for his blessings on food crops as well as carry around pictures of the Duke, who died on Friday aged 99.

The villagers began worshipping Philip in the 1960s after seeing pictures of him and his wife the Queen.

They linked the couple to a Vanuatu legend of a pale-skinned son of the mountain god, who travelled across the seas to find a rich and powerful woman to marry.

The village proudly displays several photos of Philip, including one taken in 1980 that shows him holding a club the locals had made specially for him and sent to London.

Younanen was treated to a visit from their god in 1974, when Philip and the Queen travelled to Vanuatu on a state visit back when it was partially owned by the UK and known as the New Hebrides.

"Prince Philip is important to us because our ancestors told us that part of our custom is in England," village chief Jack Malia told Reuters in 2017, when Philip announced his retirement from public duties.

The end of the Duke's royal engagements was met with dismay in Younanen, where villagers had been hoping for a second visit from the man they believed had divine powers.

"If he comes one day the people will not be poor, there will be no sickness, no debt and the garden will be growing very well," Mr Malia explained.

"Prince Philip has said one day he will come and visit us. We still believe that he will come but if he doesn't come, the pictures that I am holding... it means nothing."

The village is not marked on maps and is located some distance from other settlements, so it's unlikely its people have received the sad news of Philip's death yet.

Mr Malia said the Duke had given them wise advise during his 1974 visit, telling them to never accept money from foreigners — only food.

They may have never gotten the much-anticipated second visit from their god, but they did meet his son Prince Charles in 2018 who visited the island during his Commonwealth Games tour.

Vanuatu is an archipelago above New Caledonia consisting of 83 small islands. It has a population of approximately 300,000.

Both France and the UK claimed parts of Vanuatu in the 1880s, and agreed to manage the islands in a joint arrangement in 1906.

An independence movement arose in the 1970s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was founded in 1980.

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