Duke flies home from Falklands – and gets a crew break

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The Duke of Cambridge returned from the Falkland Islands yesterday 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 the UK 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, the UK 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 yesterday morning, adding: “He will have a short period of leave like the rest of his crew, before returning to work at RAF Valley.”

The Ministry of Defence said the Duke – Flight Lieutenant Wales – flew into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

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