NEWS
07/04/2018 12:19 BST

Prince Charles Declared High Chief In Vanuatu

One tribe believes his father Prince Philip is a divine being.

PA Wire/PA Images
Prince Charles has been made a high chief during visit to the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu

Prince Charles might not have the god-like status of his father Prince Philip on Vanuatu, but he was given an honour all of his own on a visit to the nation.

Donning a grass skirt and a white garland, the heir to the throne was made a high chief in a colourful ceremony on Saturday.

In the tradition of the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, Charles took part in a series of rituals as he was given the high chief name of Mal Menaringmanu, the Press Association reported.

The prince also took a sip from a cup of special kava, known as Royal Kava, before planting two trees.

The drink is reserved for special occasions and was only last consumed when the Duke of Edinburgh visited the island in 1974.

Delighting the crowds – who had turned out in their thousands – with the traditional greeting of “Halo yufala euriwan”, meaning “hello everybody”, he said: “My visit, while far too brief, has nevertheless allowed me to experience for myself the warmth, generosity and spirit for which the people of Vanuatu are so justly famed.”

He added: “Vanuatu, you are number one!”

Charles later had the chance to meet Jimmy Joseph, from the village of Yaohnanen, on the Vanuatuan island of Tanna, where Prince Philip is viewed as a divine being.

The Prince Philip Movement believes the Queen’s husband is the man from one of their legends.

Charles warmly shook Joseph’s hand as he was presented with a gift.

Joseph said: “I gave him a walking stick for his father made by the hands of the Prince Philip Movement.

“I told him a lot of people in the movement have now died but there are some still living.

“The prince said he would deliver the message personally.”

Earlier, Charles had received a welcome befitting for an heir to the throne as he landed on the island at Port Vila.

Greeted by the locals in traditional dress and with painted faces, the prince smiled and waved as he walked across red ceremonial mats – one of the most deeply respected aspects of Vanuatu’s traditions.

PA Wire/PA Images
The Prince of Wales arrives at the airport on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, during his tour of the region

After meeting with Vanuatu’s president and being given the first of many traditional garlands, it was time for a spot of shopping, as Charles picked up a hat and a bag for wife Camilla at a handicraft market.

“They make such wonderful gifts, don’t they,” he said, as he snapped them up for 6000 vatu.

Charles spent a while strolling through the Haos blong Handikraf market, admiring locally made products such as paintings, wooden sculptures and woven baskets.

Sovaki Zacharie, 19, who spoke to the prince at the market, said it was “so special” to have Charles visit the island.

“We’ve only ever seen him in magazines, so to see him in real life makes me so happy,” she said.

Charles also visited Port Vila Central Hospital, which suffered extensive damage when tropical cyclone Pam hit in 2015, and praised the “fantastic” recovery effort funded by the Australian government, including the refurbishment of operating theatres and the laboratory.

The day trip to the South Pacific island came on the fourth day of his week-long tour of Australia, the first three days of which he was joined by the Duchess of Cornwall.

He will now fly on to Cairns before finishing his trip in Darwin.