UK Politics

Prince William Falklands duty entirely routine - Hague

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Media captionPrince William takes to the skies (Footage courtesy of the MoD)

The deployment of Prince William, and a warship, to the Falkland Islands is "entirely routine", UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

The prince began as an RAF search and rescue pilot on Saturday, while HMS Dauntless will go in the coming months.

It comes amid tensions between the UK and Argentina, as the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict approaches.

There was nothing provocative about "routine military movements", Mr Hague told Sky News' Murnaghan programme.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond had already denied the prince's deployment was provocation towards Argentina, and insisted it was "routine".

'Diplomatic temperature'

Mr Hague said commemorations to mark the conflict would go ahead but Britain supported the islanders' self-determination and would seek to prevent Argentina from "raising the diplomatic temperature" on the issue.

"(The events) are not so much celebrations as commemorations. I think Argentina will also be holding commemorations of those who died in the conflict," Mr Hague said.

"Since both countries will be doing that I don't think there is anything provocative about that. Nor is there anything provocative about entirely routine military movements.

"They are entirely routine - of course our ships regularly visit the South Atlantic. We don't normally make any comment on the deployment of our nuclear submarines. But our Naval vessels regularly visit the South Atlantic.

"Prince William is on a routine deployment that is part of his job.

"We will resist the diplomatic efforts of Argentina to raise the temperature on this and when I was in the Caribbean a couple of weeks ago, the Caribbean nations agreed to support a self-determination of the Falkland islanders which is what we believe in.

"We will put the case for that around the world, including for Latin American and Caribbean nations whenever we get the opportunity."

'Every eventuality'

Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne said that protecting the people of the Falklands was a priority.

"We are always prepared for every eventuality," he told BBC One's Sunday Politics.

"Argentina is a big powerful country - it's a member of the G20 most powerful countries in the world.

"It's got a population of 40 million people.

"The Falkland Islands have only got a population of 2,500 people but we are determined that they should be able to decide their own future.

"Their future shouldn't be decided for them by the Argentinians and we're determined to up the principle of self-determination."

Heightened tensions

The Duke of Cambridge is part of a four-man crew in the territory providing cover for both the civilian and military population.

The six-week deployment will see Flight Lieutenant Wales operate as a Sea King co-pilot, a post he has held at RAF Valley in Anglesey since qualifying.

Earlier this week the Royal Navy said it would send one of its latest warships, the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless, to the region on her maiden voyage.

The Royal Navy has said the Portsmouth-based destroyer's deployment has been planned for a long time, and is not a reaction to heightened tensions over the Falklands.

The Ministry of Defence has not confirmed when the ship will set sail.

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