Tensions over the Falklands Islands have hit a new high as protesters burnt Union Jack flags outside the British Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Argentine citizens, upset by Britain's indefinite occupation of the Falklands, vented their frustrations on British symbols and attacked a branch of HSBC, headquartered in London, with paint bombs and rocks.

Argentinian media outlets have expressed surprise at the arrival of Prince William in the Falklands amid "high tensions" between the two countries, with one protester called the prince "a pirate".

Two of the country's most widely read newspapers, El Clarin and La Nacion, both carried front page stories on the prince's arrival in the Falklands, referring to him as a "conquistador".

El Clarin said: "The mission, which had been ratified by the royal family in November, is set to go ahead despite the Anglo-Argentine tensions."

La Nacion was also baffled by the decision, saying: "Amid the growing tensions between Argentina and Great Britain, London has committed to the decision to send Prince William to the Falklands."

The Ministry of Defence, however, was keen to stress that the six-week mission was routine.

William, a flight lieutenant with the RAF, will take part in search and rescue helicopter operations on the remote outcrop in the South Atlantic.

General David Richards, chief of defence staff, pointed out that Prince Harry was sent to Afghanistan as a forward air controller in 2008.

A spokesperson from Clarence House told International Business Times UK this was a matter for the military and the royal family was not involved in the decision to deploy William as a Sea King helicopter pilot on the islands.

"This is a Ministry of Defence operation and it is something we don't get involved with," the spokesperson said.

As the 30<sup>th anniversary of the Falklands War approaches, Prime Minister David Cameron sent the HMS Dauntless to the islands.

Cameron and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez have previously accused each other of "colonial" behaviour.

A Royal Navy spokesman rejected suggestions that the decision to send the ultra-modern destroyer to the region represented an escalation of the UK's position.

"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," he said.