Prince William to be deployed to Falklands

The Duke of Cambridge The Duke's tour was first announced in the summer

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The Duke of Cambridge will be posted to the Falkland Islands for six weeks next February and March, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced.

Prince William will complete a routine deployment as a Royal Air Force search and rescue co-pilot.

Flt Lt Wales - as he is known - from 22 Squadron, RAF Valley, will be part of a crew of four RAF personnel.

The deployment will form the latest stage of his training programme, RAF officials said.

His tour of the remote islands in the South Atlantic - a British overseas territory - was announced this summer, but details and timings have only just been finalised.

'Career progression'

The dates of his tour have been chosen to avoid a clash with the Queen's 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations, which William is expected to attend over an extended four-day bank holiday weekend in June.

The MoD said in a statement: "This deployment forms part of a normal squadron crew rotation and will form part of Flt Lt Wales' training and career progression as a search and rescue pilot within the RAF."

For six weeks an isolated British overseas territory will be Prince William's home.

It is both a routine deployment of an RAF search and rescue pilot and possibly a sensitive one. A future king will be living on land in the Atlantic Ocean which two countries have argued over, and sacrificed lives over, for two centuries.

Mindful of the potential for upset in Argentina, the RAF is making clear that William will not conduct any ceremonial duties while he is there.

The prince is said to be looking forward to going. He hopes it will help him secure promotion from flight lieutenant to a higher position allowing him to take full charge of his helicopter.

While aware of the ongoing disputed history, William is likely to be more pre-occupied with the practicalities.

The MoD advises people like him who'll be using single accommodation to bring with them an extra coat hook.

The 30th anniversary of the Falklands War will also be commemorated next year. William's uncle, the Duke of York, served in the 10-week conflict in 1982 as a Sea King helicopter pilot.

William, who will be posted without his wife Catherine, qualified as an RAF Search and Rescue Force (Sarf) helicopter co-pilot last September and is based at RAF Valley, in Anglesey, north Wales.

Observers say he has increased his workload recently as he seeks promotion to a higher position allowing him to take full charge of his helicopter.

Tensions between Argentina and Britain over the disputed islands remain.

Britain has ruled them for more than 180 years, but Argentina claims sovereignty over the islands it calls Las Malvinas.

This summer, Argentine president Cristina Kirchner accused David Cameron of "mediocrity bordering on stupidity" when the UK prime minister said the islands should remain a British territory if that was what its inhabitants wanted.

She insisted the two countries should negotiate over the islands.

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said Argentine officials have already indicated they consider the deployment "insensitive", given recent history.

But he said the RAF, backed by the government, felt it would be wrong for the Duke not to go simply because of his identity.

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