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Vanuatu tribe that worships Prince Philip as god to mark death with ritual wailing

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By AP
In this Sunday, May 31, 2015 file photo, Albi Nagia poses with photographs of Prince Philip in Yakel, Tanna island, Vanuatu.
In this Sunday, May 31, 2015 file photo, Albi Nagia poses with photographs of Prince Philip in Yakel, Tanna island, Vanuatu.   -   Copyright  Nick Perry/AP

A tribe in the remote Pacific island nation of Vanuatu that regarded Prince Philip as a god will mourn his death with ritual wailing and ceremonial dancing, an expert has said.

The group, based in villages on the island of Tanna in the former Anglo-French colony, revered Philip and believed him to be a reincarnation of an ancient warrior who left the island to fight a war.

"Here in Tanna, we believe that Prince Philip is the son of our god, our ancestral god, who lives up in the mountain," local resident Nako Nikien, also known as "Jimmy Joseph," said in 2015.

Nikien is a member of a local cult called the Prince Philip Movement.

He was among five villagers to meet Philip in 2007, when they were flown to the UK by the British reality show "Meet the Natives."

"Meeting him (was) just wonderful," he said, describing it as "like being in a spiritual world."

Nikien added that according to the tribe's beliefs, the spirit of Prince Philip will never die.

Philip, the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, passed away Friday morning at Windsor Castle in the U.K.

His death was marked with 41-gun salutes at noon on Saturday at locations across the UK, including the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle, as well as in Gibraltar and on Royal Navy ships at sea.

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated well-prepared arrangements for the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, with details about the event to be confirmed in "due course", Buckingham Palace has said.