Prince William prepares for his first sortie with crew members at the Mount Pleasant Complex on the Falkland Islands (Reuters)
Prince William prepares for his first sortie with crew members at the Mount Pleasant Complex on the Falkland Islands (Reuters)

Prince William is due to return from his six-week tour of duty of the Falkland Islands, a "routine deployment" which has sparked protests and re-ignited international tensions.

While he is not the first member of the royal family to visits the small islands - Princess Anne travelled to the territory five years ago - it is the timing of the Prince's search tour with the RAF Search & Rescue Squadron was has seen as inappropriate and provocative by Argentina.

April 2 will mark the 30th anniversary of the British invasion of the Islands, resulting in a 72-day war which claimed the lives of 649 Argentines and 255 Britons.

His arrival was met with accusations he entered the island wearing a "uniform of the conqueror" as he arrived in full RAF costume and was duly followed by burning British flags at the of British embassy in Buenos Aires by Argentina activists.

Demonstrators burn a British flag outside the British embassy in Buenos Aires (Reuters)
Demonstrators burn a British flag outside the British embassy in Buenos Aires (Reuters)

While the six-week tour from the Duke of Cambridge has been relatively quiet, only taking part in a few rescue missions since his deployment, his presence in the area the Argentines call the Malvinas has been hotly disputed by the country's government and even Hollywood.

"Uniform of the conqueror"

The Argentine Foreign Ministry was one of the first negative criticisms of William's tour so soon to the anniversary of the war, comparing the Prince visit as one from a "conqueror".

The statement released from Argentine foreign ministry, under the letterhead: "Argentina, a country with good people" read: "Prince William will arrive on the Malvinas Islands as a member of his country's armed forces.
"The Argentine people regret that the royal heir will arrive on national soil in the uniform of the conqueror and not with the wisdom of the statesman who works in the service of peace and dialogue among nations," it said.

"Attempt at a cover"

Vice President Amado Boudou suggested that the timing of the tour had nothing to do with provoking the Argentina people, more it was a smokescreen by British Prime Minister David Cameron, providing a good distraction to the problems his own country was - and still is - facing.

According to Amado Boudou, the moves to deploy William "have to do with British domestic politics, with the high unemployment. This is an attempt to cover for a government that has a low level of accomplishment," Boudou told on Argentinian radio station La Red.

"Routine Deployment"

The suggestions that the six-week tour was aimed to be a distraction were dismissed by Foreign Secretary William Hague, who reassured people that it was merely a "routine deployment" by the Prince.

Hague said: "(The events) are not so much celebrations as commemorations. I think Argentina will also be holding commemorations of those who died in the conflict," Mr Hague said."Since both countries will be doing that I don't think there is anything provocative about that. Nor is there anything provocative about entirely routine military movements

"Prince William is on a routine deployment that is part of his job."

Sean Penn

One of the more high-profile criticisms of the Prince's tour of duty came from out-spoken actor Sean Penn.

The famously left-wing actor, who has previously publicly called for the impeachment of George W Bush over the Iraq war, called the Prince's arrival "colonist, ludicrous and archaic" during a visit to Buenos Ares to see Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and "unthinkable" after a meeting with Uruguayan president Jose Mujica in Montevideo.

Penn said after his visit to Mujica: "It's unthinkable that the United Kingdom can make a conscious decision to deploy a prince within the military to the Malvinas, knowing the great emotional sensitivity both of mothers and fathers in the United Kingdom and in Argentina who lost sons and daughters in a war of islands with a population of so few."

Tory MP and former army officer Patrick Mercer responded with personal attacks on the double Oscar winner's catalogue of films. "What on earth has this got to do with Sean Penn? He's neither British nor Argentine and seems to know nothing about the situation judging by this moronic comment. A good number of his movies have been turkeys, so I suppose we shouldn't expect much better coming out of his mouth," he said, speaking to the Daily Mail.

It is understood that the news about William's return from the Falkland's will not be made public until 24-hours after he has arrived back in England.

Actor Sean Penn labelled Prince William's visit as “colonist, ludicrous and archaic” (Reuters)
Actor Sean Penn labelled Prince William\'s visit as “colonist, ludicrous and archaic” (Reuters)