Growing up in Southport, Matthew Baylis pinned a poster of Prince Philip on his bedroom wall, identifying with the royal as he too was ‘unpopular, posh, misunderstood’. When, as an adult, Baylis discovered that a group of South Pacific islanders worshipped the prince, he leapt on a plane and set off in pursuit.
Philippism exists – ‘flourishes’ would be too strong a verb – in Yaohnanen, a village on the kidney-shaped Tanna, one of 83 Melanesian islands that form Vanuatu. Man Belong Mrs Queen tells the story of the enterprising Baylis’s experiences as he tries to fathom the Philip business. (He also took along a crate of tools with which the villagers built a school.)
It turns out that the 18,000 Tannese, though divided by fissiparous rivalries, are united by ‘a dislike of money, a distrust of government, education [and] imported religion’, the latter manifesting itself in a veritable jungle of spiritual affiliations in addition to the Philippic. ‘Manchester United’, writes Baylis, ‘had a vigorous