Prince William Returns Home From Falklands Tour
Prince William is back home in Great Britain today after spending nearly seven weeks away on a deployment to the Falkland Islands.
St. James's Palace confirmed that William, 29, landed safely this morning at the Brize Norton Royal Air Force (RAF) base in Oxfordshire, England. He will now travel to his home in London at Kensington Palace where he will be reunited with his wife, Kate Middleton, this afternoon.
Middleton, 30, was not on hand to meet her prince as he stepped off the aircraft, in line with RAF routine followed by William's fellow soldiers, the palace said.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as the couple are formally known, will enjoy a few days of rest before William returns to his duties as a Royal Air Force helicopter rescue pilot in Anglesey, Wales, where the couple have a home.
Prince William departed for the Falklands on Feb. 1. He was said by islanders to have kept a low profile, reportedly visiting the local hospital and making a trip to a remote island home to penguins, sea lions and elephant seals, but his tour of duty did spark controversy.
The presence of William, deployed as part of a four-man team on call for search and rescue missions, and other British soldiers stirred tensions with Argentina, which claims the islands nearly 300 miles off its coast. The Duke was branded "William the conqueror" by Argentina's Foreign Ministry in this the run-up to the 30th anniversary of the nation's April 1982 invasion of the islands.
William now returns home to London to both a refurbished Kensington Palace, reopening to the public after a two-year, $19 million makeover, and a wife who found her public footing while he was away.
Middleton marked a series of firsts in a flurry of official engagements while William was gone, including her first solo outing with his grandmother, the queen, and her first public speech. She also marked her first solo military appearance and stepped out at a number of charitable and society events, visiting children on Valentine's Day and playing with the British Olympic women's field hockey team at the future site of this summer's London Olympics.
The Duchess nonetheless did reveal that she is just like any other military spouse who misses their husband or wife while he or she is away.
"I am only sorry that William can't be here today; he would love it here," she said on Monday in prepared remarks delivered at a children's hospice charity of which she is a patron.
At an earlier stop with the queen to kick off the monarch's Diamond Jubilee tour, Middleton was said to have told questioners that she missed William "terribly" but was "being well looked after," according to UK newspaper the Sun.
The now-reunited couple will continue to participate in events commemorating the queen's Diamond Jubilee, culminating in the 2012 Diamond Jubilee weekend in June.
Their primary residence will remain their small house in Anglesey, while Kensington Palace will be their London home to accommodate the couple for weekend and official visits.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.