South Sea tribe prepares birthday feast for their favourite god, Prince Philip
At the base of a banyan tree, an elderly village chief held his most prized possession between bony fingers. "Philip sent this to us," he said. "Now we have three of them."
A signed portrait of Prince Philip is an incongruous sight in a South Pacific jungle, but for the people of this remote village, in the island state of Vanuatu, the picture is an integral part of their lives.
As unlikely as it sounds, the people of Yaohnanen and surrounding villages worship 85-year-old Prince Philip as a god.
They believe him to be the son of an ancient spirit who inhabits a nearby mountain, on the island of Tanna.
Despite worshipping the prince for half a century, the villagers â all of whom are illiterate â only learnt recently that his birthday falls on June 10.
Ambitious plans are now underway to celebrate the occasion this year. There will be dancing and a feast. Chief Jack Naiva has acquired an immaculate Union flag, which will be run up a flagpole and saluted.
But the celebrations will only really be complete if Prince Philip himself turns up, say the tribes people.
"You must tell King Philip that I'm getting old and I want him to come and visit me before I die," said the white-haired chief, who thinks he is about 80. "If he can't come perhaps he could send us something: a Land Rover, bags of rice or a little money."
Determining exactly how these people came to believe in the prince's divinity is very difficult. It appears that at some point in the 1950s, they melded Christian beliefs in a returning messiah with the respect accorded His Royal Highness by the British authorities in what was then the colony of New Hebrides.