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Charles to visit South Pacific nation where Philip is a god

The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall will attend the opening of the Commonwealth Games.

The Prince of Wales’ tour of Australia will see him visit Vanuatu – where some islanders revere the Duke of Edinburgh as a god.

As part of a trip to launch the Commonwealth Games on behalf of the Queen, Charles will also tour the South Pacific country to learn how inhabitants recovered from devastating Cyclone Pam in 2015.

Philip is worshipped as a deity by the people of Tanna, one of the many islands that make up Vanuatu.

UK aid being delivered to Vanuatu by an RAF C-17 plane, at Bauerfield International Airport, after the region was battered by Cyclone Pam in 2015. (Sgt Neil Bryden RAF/MoD Crown Co)

Other highlights of the seven-day tour, which begins on April 4, will see the family of Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin join Charles on a Great Barrier Reef island to highlight the plight of the world’s coral reefs.

Irwin, who was nicknamed the Crocodile Hunter, died in 2006 after being attacked by a stingray while filming footage for a documentary.

His daughter Bindi, 19, was eight when her father was killed but has continued his conservation work at Australia Zoo in Queensland and is expected to meet Charles with her mother Terri Irwin and brother Robert.

Australia’s Gold Coast is hosting the Commonwealth Games and the prince, joined by the Duchess of Cornwall, will read the monarch’s message at the opening ceremony, calling on athletes to come together in the spirit of friendly competition.

During the visit Charles and Camilla will tour the athletes’ village and the prince will hold meetings with Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, Commonwealth leaders attending the sporting tournament and present medals to swimmers.

The Duchess is only joining her husband for the first three days of the tour and during that time will host her own event, a reception for WOW, Women of the World, a global movement supporting women and girls pursuing action and change.

Charles will carry out events in the cities of Brisbane, Cairns – where he will visit one of the busiest centres of the Royal Flying Doctor Service – and the communities of Darwin and Gove in the Northern Territories.

Scott Furssedonn-Wood, deputy private secretary to the prince and duchess, said about the visit: “As well as being an opportunity to celebrate the Commonwealth, in the run-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, this tour will focus on the themes of community, sustainability and disaster recovery and resilience.

“And the programme will also reflect the prince’s strong relationship with the Australian armed forces and as well as the work of Prince’s Trust Australia.”

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