Vanuatu tribe who worship Prince Philip as god shocked to learn of his death

A Vanuatu tribe who worship Prince Philip as their god reportedly broke down in tears upon learning of his death. 

The Duke of Edinburgh died at Windsor Castle on Friday aged 99. Throughout his life, he maintained a respectful relationship with the Yaohnanen Tribe of Tanna Island in Vanuatu, who saw them as one of their own. 

The Yaohnanen people were asleep when news broke of Prince Philip's death. They weren't aware of what had happened until Mary Niere who works as an accountant at a nearby resort told them on Saturday afternoon. 

Villagers were shocked at the news.

"The men were silent and looking down. Many of the women were very emotional and crying a lot," Niere told the Daily Mail.

Niere says ritualistic wailing is a way Tanna Island people deal with grief and may go on for weeks. 

The tribe then offered their condolences to the Royal Family via video message. 

In the condolence video, shared by the Daily Mail, Village chief Yapa holds up a picture of himself and other tribesmen with Prince Philip, taken on their trip to England in 2007.

"In 2007 we were taken to England," he says surrounded by men who are also holding photos of the late Duke. 

 "The connection between the people on the island of Tanna and the English people is very strong.

"We are sending condolence messages to the Royal Family and the people of England."

The people on the remote South Pacific Island believed Prince Philip was a "spirit being" originally from Tanna.

Legend has it the spirit of an active volcano on the island had a child with a local woman - that child being Prince Philip, who went on to travel the world and marry the Queen.

Sydney-based anthropologist Kirk Huffman, who spent 18 years in Vanuatu, said despite Prince Philip's well-documented history of racially and culturally insensitive remarks, he maintained a long-standing relationship with the people of Tanna Island.

"In this case he has been incredibly respectful, very sympathetic; he's communicated with them, he's sent them gifts, they have sent him gifts, really since the 1970s.

"His thing was the promotion of respect for tradition and that's, I think, one of the things that really clicked with them. These people are really very strong respecters of tradition, they follow a very ancient philosophical tradition."

The Duke of Edinburgh sent the tribe three official portraits over the years and several letters, but never visited the Island of Tanna. 

Huffman told Reuters the tribe's worship of Prince Philip is likely to continue despite his death.