Prince William will begin a six-week deployment to the Falkland Islands Wednesday to serve on the crew of one of two search-and-rescue helicopters on call 24 hours a day for the Royal Air Force.
The RAF announced the royal heir’s upcoming deployment last November, calling it routine. The statement said it was the normal course of his training and career.
Argentina, however, has expressed deep displeasure at the Duke of Cambridge’s impending arrival. The two countries have rival claims to the islands’ sovereignty, although the archipelago is formally an overseas dependency of Britain. The timing of the deployment has also made the South American coutry leery. The deployment date falls barely two months before the 30th anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the islands on April 2, 1982.
Argentina’s foreign minister blasted Prince William’s stay, the Telegraph reports, saying it was a shame the royal heir would be arriving wearing “the uniform of a conqueror.” The 74 day conflict ended with Argentina’s defeat.
The HMS Dauntless, one of the Royal Navy’s most advanced new warships, also is headed for the area. Quoting a Navy source, the Daily Telegraph reported the battery missiles on the Dauntless could “take out all of South America’s fighter aircraft let alone Argentina’s.”
A spokesperson for the Royal Navy said the decision to send the warship, and Prince William’s presence, do not represent an escalation of Britain’s position in regard to the islands.
''The Royal Navy has had a continuous presence in the South Atlantic for many years. The deployment of HMS Dauntless to the South Atlantic has been long planned, is entirely routine and replaces another ship on patrol,'' the spokesperson said.
Max Foster, an international anchor for CNN, called it “fairly standard,” adding that there won’t be any change in the sovereignty of the islands unless the Falklanders decide that. And because the population is nearly all British, Foster said “that’s not really going to work that way.”
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