Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

William begins Falklands posting

The Duke of Cambridge is in the Falklands for a six-month tour as a search and rescue pilot
The Duke of Cambridge is in the Falklands for a six-month tour as a search and rescue pilot

The Duke of Cambridge is beginning his six-week posting in the Falklands amid heightened tensions between Britain and Argentina over the disputed islands.

William arrived in the archipelago on Thursday ahead of a tour of duty as an RAF search and rescue pilot.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the posting was part of a "routine operational deployment", despite Argentina likening it to that of a "conqueror".

Tensions have risen between the two countries in the past week following the announcement that one of the Royal Navy's most advanced new warships is being sent to the area.

HMS Dauntless, a Type 45 destroyer, is due to set sail for the South Atlantic on her maiden mission in the coming months to replace frigate HMS Montrose.

William will attend a series of briefings and take part in a "familiarisation flight" before he begins his search and rescue work in the remote outcrop, known in Argentina as Las Malvinas.

An MoD spokesman said: "MOD can confirm Flight Lieutenant Wales, as part of a four-man Search and Rescue (SAR) crew, has arrived in the Falkland Islands on a routine operational deployment and will shortly take up SAR duties post a period of briefings and a familiarisation flight."

The Argentinean government has claimed William's deployment was a distraction from Britain's "internal problems". Vice president Amado Boudou told the country's La Red radio station that the move was a case of "bravado" to mask high unemployment and the prospect of Scottish independence.

Meanwhile, angry scenes broke out in Buenos Aires, where a group of masked protesters reportedly took to the streets and threw paint at a British bank.

The Royal Navy has rejected suggestions the decision to send HMS Dauntless to the area was a riposte to increased tensions over the sovereignty of the Falklands. William's posting has been similarly defended by the MoD as part of a "normal" squadron rotation, but it has been branded a "provocative act" by Argentina.

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