Prince William Heads To Falklands As Argentina Threatens 'Economic Blockade'
As tension continues to simmer between Britain and Argentina over the Falkand Islands, Prince William is believed to be en route to the disputed territory.
The Duke of Cambridge's arrival, ahead of a tour of duty as an RAF search and rescue pilot, will come as the Royal Navy prepares to send one of its most advanced new warships to the area, HMS Dauntless.
Argentina has already sparked controversy over its "William the Conqueror" taunts, suggesting that the Prince will be wearing the uniform of a "conqueror" when he deploys to the south Atlantic.
William's posting to the remote outcrop, which Buenos Aires calls Las Malvinas, is due to last six weeks.
His departure for the Falklands as the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict nears and with threats from Argentina to effectively impose an economic blockade on the islands by cutting off Chilean flights.
On Wednesday, the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner made public a threat to block all flights from Chilean airline LAN, effectively severing any link with the outside world.
Even if LAN resisted Argentine pressure to stop flights between Punta Arenas in Chile and Mount Pleasant airport, Argentina could refuse to let the airline use its airspace, which would have the same effect.
Civilians in the Falklands would then be solely reliant on a military flight, an 8,000-mile journey from London via Ascension Island, an island close to the equator, the Guardian reported. This would prove too expensive, effectively blockading the island.
"If the LAN Chile flight is cancelled it would be pretty difficult to resist the already credible thesis that there is an economic blockade of the civilian population of the Falklands," a senior British diplomat told the Guardian on Wednesday
William's arrival on the island follows an announcement that HMS Dauntless, an ultra-modern Type 45 destroyer, is due to set sail for the South Atlantic on her maiden mission in the coming months. She is expected to replace frigate HMS Montrose in the region.
The Royal Navy has rejected suggestions the decision to send the destroyer to the area was a riposte to the heightened tensions over the islands' sovereignty and said the ship's deployment was long planned.
William's posting - as part of a crew of four RAF personnel - has been similarly defended by the Ministry of Defence as a "routine deployment" for a Sea King pilot which forms part of a "normal" squadron rotation.
But it has been branded a "provocative act" by Argentina.
In the latest salvo, the country's Foreign Ministry said it "rejected the British attempt to militarise (the) conflict" and expressed regret that an heir to the throne would arrive wearing "the uniform of a conqueror".
David Cameron and Argentine president Cristina Fernandez have previously accused each other of "colonial" behaviour, while Argentine official Sebastian Brugo Marco last year said the country could not ignore the "political" implications of William's deployment.
General Sir David Richards, the Chief of the Defence Staff, dismissed the claims, saying: "I can absolutely tell you it wasn't and isn't designed to be."