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Prince Charles a chief among people who worship his father

News Desk

Agence France-Presse

Port Vila, Vanuatu  /  Sun, April 8, 2018  /  08:08 pm
Prince Charles a chief among people who worship his father

Britain's Prince Charles (R) stands with Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe, the President of the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, at the Chief’s Nakamal in Port Vila on April 7, 2018. (AFP/Ben Bohane)

Prince Charles was made a "kastom chief" during a visit on Saturday to Vanuatu where he also meet briefly with a residents from an island who worship his 96-year-old father Prince Philip.

Kastom denotes high chief status promoting harmonious coexistence, peace and reconciliation.

Charles was named Chief Mal Menaringmanu by Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe, President of the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, which is the South Pacific nation’s chiefly body. 

The 69-year-old heir to the British throne was given a kastom dress -- a woven pandanus skirt -- for the occasion and drank a shell of kava, a traditional drink in the South Pacific.

However, he was spared the traditional killing of a pig, which usually seals all important ceremonies according to Vanuatu culture.

The Prince tried his hand at speaking some of the local Bislama language, saying: "Tenkyu tumas bilong gudfella welkom. Hemi wan bigfalla honour bilong kam wan chief." (Thank you for the great welcome, it is a big honour to become a chief). 

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Charles also met Jimmy Joseph from the Vanuatu island of Tanna where his father has god-like status with a cult known as the Prince Philip movement. 

"I gave him a walking stick for his father made by the hands of the Prince Philip Movement," Joseph told reporters. 

Charles later returned to Australia where he is on a week-long tour that has included opening the Commonwealth Games.