Prince Philip: Cyclone coinciding with retirement 'likely to cement God status among cult who worship him'
Villagers of South Pacific nation believe Queen's husband is son of a volcano spirit
An island cult who worship Prince Philip as their God may believe his retirement has triggered a tropical cyclone, according to an author who has lived among the villagers.
Residents of the remote village of Yaohnanen, on the Pacific island of Tanna, hailed a 2015 cyclone as a sign the Duke of Edinburgh would visit the islands.
Now, just as the Duke announced news of his retirement, another storm is on the way, which may be interpreted in a similar way by the villagers.
Author and journalist Matthew Baylis, who lived among the villagers, said the cyclone could indicate the Duke has reached a higher “sacred status”.
"They told me that they see Philip's living in a palace, surrounded by guards, and travelling in a car with darkened windows, as evidence of his taboo status," he told The Telegraph.
"So they may well see his withdrawal from public duties as connected to that - having attained some higher rung of taboo, sacred status.
"Equally, they might think he is preparing to come 'back' to Tanna, in some form, spiritually or bodily."
The cult - known as the Prince Philip Movement - emerged in the 1950s but grew after Queen Elizabeth II, along with her husband Philip, visited the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu in 1974.
Islanders believed the Duke was the incarnation of the son of a volcano spirit who, according to island legend, travelled abroad to marry a powerful woman.
Tropical cyclone Donna may intensify further by the time it reaches the region this weekend.
"It is going to be severe, category three at least and maybe category four, but only time will tell," Neville Koop from the Nadraki Weather Service told ABC.
Independent News Service