11/13/2011 01:45 EST | Updated 01/13/2012 05:12 EST

Britain defends Prince William's posting to Falkland Islands

LONDON - British officials Sunday defended the deployment of Prince William to the Falkland Islands, after Argentina reportedly condemned the move as a provocative act.

The Defence Ministry announced this week that the 29-year-old prince, a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot, will be posted to the British outpost for six weeks next year.

The deployment — which will come shortly before the 30th anniversary of Argentina's defeat in the Falklands War — appeared to anger some Argentines. An Argentine official, Sebastian Brugo Marco, told the paper La Nacion the move was a "provocative act."

But Britain's chief of armed forces David Richards insisted Sunday that it "wasn't and isn't designed to be" that way.

"Prince William, along with his brother Prince Harry, is a regular member of the armed forces and they do their stint in the roster that comes all our ways," Richards told Sky News.

Britain has ruled the Falklands, which lie 460 kilometres east of Argentina's coast, for more than 180 years, but Argentina claims sovereignty over the islands, which it calls Las Malvinas. The two countries fought a brief war over the islands in 1982.

Britain still maintains about 1,000 troops in the territory, which is home to about 3,000 people.

Officials said William's posting is a normal part of his training and that he would not undertake any ceremonial royal duties during the deployment. His wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, will remain in Britain.

William, the second in line to the throne, will begin the deployment in February. His uncle, Prince Andrew, served in the Falklands conflict as a Sea King helicopter pilot.