Tribe who worshipped Prince Philip as a god celebrated the coronation

A world away from the pageantry at London’s Westminster Abbey, a South Pacific island celebrated the coronation of King Charles.

It was a momentous occasion on the volcanic island of Tanna, south of Vanuatu, the cradle of the Prince Philip movement, which claims the late royal as a long-lost ancestor.

Far from the crowds at Buckingham Palace, some 1,000 islanders gathered in the rugged highlands to mark the event.

This is where the Kastom people are based. Since the 1960s, they believe Queen Elizabeth II’s husband was the son of a mountain spirit.

Ahead of the coronation, they were sent a framed portrait of the new king from Britain’s acting high commissioner Michael Watters.

‘I am very happy because Philip’s child is Charles. I am very happy with Charles,’ chief Yabah, who once travelled to Windsor Castle and met Philip, said.

He said he would like to visit Buckingham Palace, but also extended an invitation to the new king

‘I want him to come to my place and see me here, in Tanna,’ he added.

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Villagers danced and sang as part of the celebration before drinking shells full of kava – a peppery, mildly intoxicating root drink that is a key part of Pacific culture.

British diplomats joined them on the special coronation mission, gifting them the portrait.

Tribal leaders will add it to a fading collection of pictures showing Philip in his prime, which have long been among the movement’s most treasured possessions.

Mr Watters, who flew to Tanna from the capital Port Vila, shuffled in at the end of a long procession, flanked by village elders.

He said: ‘I have been greeted with such warmth and joy by the community.

‘The ceremony was a wonderful way to pay respect to the unique relationship shared by the UK and Vanuatu.’

In 2021, the tribal community mourned the death of Philip and held a period of mourning, performing ritualistic dances and holding a procession.

Over the years, he had corresponded with the villagers, and sent pictures of himself holding a ceremonial club they gave him.

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