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This is the complete archive of all pieces, articles and contributions within FAIR News on totalitarian cults and similar groups, including items which appeared in issues dating back to the early days of FAIR's thirty years' existence.
The Prince Philip Movement
September 14th 2011
Prince Philip has unwittingly acquired the status of a god in a benign cult far from Buckingham Palace.
The Yaohnanen, a remote tribe of South Pacific islanders, live on Tanna, in the Vanuata Islands off the coast of Australia. They believe the Queen's husband is divine, claiming him as the incarnation of a spirit who emerged from a volcano and left to marry a great lady.
The worship of Prince Philip is one of the strangest examples of a cargo cult. These groups owe their origin to modern air transport. Polynesian societies believed that Western goods, such as tins of meat, delivered by cargo planes and dropped from the sky, were sent by the gods.
Noting the respect afforded to the Queen by British colonial officials, the tribe concluded that her husband was the incarnation of a spirit who would return in person one day.
In 1974 the Royal couple did visit the island, descending from the skies in an aircraft. When the British resident commissioner in Vanuatu made the Prince aware of his following, he sent the islanders a signed photograph. The next direct contact came in 2007 when five members of the Prince Philip movement visited Britain to take part in a Channel 4 documentary. They were invited to Windsor Castle where the Prince gave them a new picture of himself. The five returned home to a heroes' welcome.
Later a problem arose when the tribesmen thought the Prince's birthday was the date of a "Second Coming". On the day of his 89th birthday in June 2010, they gathered together expecting his arrival.
Realizing their disappointment, Marc Rayner an 18-year-old Scottish gap-year student, stepped in to explain that the Prince's many responsibilities prevented him from being there in person but that he would rest in spirit on the island one day.
Marc from Musselburgh had been working on the island as a volunteer teacher, before starting a sociology and anthropology degree at Edinburgh University. "They are wonderful people and I didn't want them to feel let down", he said. I hope Buckingham Palace don't think I was trying to be Prince Philip and I certainly was not acting as a 'god'." Although he did not have any robes or even a naval uniform to hand, lack of formal English dress posed no problem for Marc. He donned a garment known as a nambas which passes for formal dress in the islands. "I was so embarrassed - but only for a few minutes", Marc explained. "These people are so loving, they make you feel part of their family. Adopting their dress proved that I was not just a tourist."
Marc commented: "These people could teach us about life. Everyone is respected in their culture and I will return one day."
His efforts to save the day were appreciated by the Chief, Siko Nathuan, who declared: "The Prince was here in spirit. He is shaking the ground. I am so happy."
It is not known how the Prince's followers will, next year, mark his 90th birthday.
The Daily Mail 7th August 2010.