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William home from Falklands mission

The Duke of Cambridge has returned from the Falkland Islands after spending more than six weeks flying RAF search and rescue missions.

William's deployment to the remote South Atlantic outcrop in February fuelled growing tensions between Britain and Argentina over the disputed islands.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Argentine President Cristina Kirchner have traded barbs in the lead-up to the 30th anniversary of the invasion of the Falklands on April 2.

Argentina has accused the UK of "militarising" the dispute by reportedly sending a submarine carrying nuclear weapons to the South Atlantic, something that Britain has not confirmed. Buenos Aires also objected to the Duke's posting to the Falklands and the deployment to the region of one of the Royal Navy's most modern destroyers, HMS Dauntless.

In turn, Britain insists its movements of troops and warships are purely routine, and claims Argentina is trying to impose an "economic blockade" on the Falklands by restricting shipping to and from the islands.

A St James's Palace spokesman confirmed William had flown back to the UK. He said: "The Duke arrived today. He will have a short period of leave like the rest of his crew, before returning to work at RAF Valley."

The Duke - known as Flight Lieutenant Wales in the air force - flew to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, said the Ministry of Defence.

William has been working as a search and rescue co-pilot since autumn 2010 when he became an operational flier of Sea King helicopters.

The deployment to the Falklands was a normal career move for a pilot at a similar stage in their working life.

The Duke is aiming to gain promotion to captain and overall command of a Sea King crew. Additional hours in the air and the experience of flying over the harsh Falklands terrain and the South Atlantic will have helped his plans.

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