5 Feb 2012

Prince William starts Falklands tour of duty

2:02 pm on 5 February 2012

Britain's Prince William has begun his duties as a search and rescue pilot in the Falkland Islands.

The 29-year-old, who is second in line to the throne, has been sent to the South Atlantic archipelago as part of his duties as an Royal Air Force Sea King helicopter pilot.

Flight Lieutenant Wales' first day on duty involved briefings on his role, which could include rescuing stranded fishermen, whisking patients to hospital or dropping off supplies to remote areas, the Defence Ministry said.

The timing of the deployment has added to tensions ahead of the 30th anniversary of the war between Britain and Argentina over the Falklands, AFP reports.

William's six-week deployment has infuriated Argentina, which has condemned it as a provocation. Buenos Aires says the Falklands are occupied Argentine territory, AFP reports.

The windswept islands, home to about 3000 people staunchly loyal to Britain, have been held by Britain since 1833.

On April 2, 1982, the then-ruling junta in Argentina invaded the Falklands, sparking a 74-day war with Britain which cost the lives of 649 Argentine and 255 British troops.