Monday 22 January 2018

William's posting to Falklands 'not act of provocation'

Ben Glaze in London

British defence chiefs last night dismissed claims that sending Prince William to the Falkland Islands was designed to provoke Argentina.

William, a flight lieutenant with the RAF, will deploy to the remote outcrop in the South Atlantic for six weeks next year to fly search and rescue helicopter missions.

But Argentine official Sebastian Brugo Marco said the country could not ignore the "political" implications of his move, which comes shortly before the 30th anniversary of Argentina's defeat in the Falklands, to which it lays claim and calls Las Malvinas.

Mr Marco said: "It is one more provocative act that shows Britain's military presence in a zone of peace where there is no armed conflict."

Britain's armed forces' chief General David Richards dismissed the claims, saying: "I can absolutely tell you it wasn't and isn't designed to be (provocative)."

He stressed William's deployment was routine for an RAF Sea King pilot, pointing out Prince Harry was sent to Afghanistan as a forward air controller in 2008.

Gen Richards said: "Prince William, along with his brother Prince Harry, is a regular member of the armed forces and they do their stint in the roster that comes all our ways."

He said relations between the UK and Argentina were "pretty constructive" and better than when war broke out in 1982.

He added: "There has been no war-like talk from Argentina.

"They clearly disagree with us over the Falkland Islands but we're all determined not to repeat the mistakes of 1982.

William, who attended yesterday's Remembrance service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, will follow in the footsteps of his uncle, the Duke of York, who served during the Falklands conflict as a Sea King helicopter pilot.

Irish Independent

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