Prince William the Duke of Cambridge at DSTL 151020 CREDIT BBC POOL
Falklands

Prince William Hails De-Mining Of Falkland Islands As 'Historic Moment'

The news means there are now no anti-personnel mines laid on British soil anywhere in the world.

Prince William the Duke of Cambridge at DSTL 151020 CREDIT BBC POOL

The Duke of Cambridge has celebrated the Falkland Islands becoming mine-free, describing the development as a "historic moment".

During the weekend, almost 40 years since the Falklands War ended, the islands were finally declared free of the mines that were laid during the conflict.

Now there are no anti-personnel mines on British soil anywhere in the world and the removal of the mines laid in the Falklands means the UK has now met its obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

Prince William, who visited the Falkland Islands while serving with the RAF Search and Rescue, said he was aware "how important the effort to clear the islands of mines has been".

"Land mines are cruel and senseless weapons that ruin lives and livelihoods," he said in a video message.

"For so many of you, particularly in Stanley, the exclusion tape barring access to nearby beaches had become a sad and perilous fact of life.

"This is therefore a hugely significant moment for the people of the Falklands."

The legacy of the 1982 war with the occupying Argentine forces had meant large areas of the islands were off limits.

Falkland Islands landscape 310119 CREDIT Forces News
Large areas of the islands had been off limits due to anti-personnel mines.

Falklanders celebrated their new freedom by rushing onto the beaches that had once been taped off due to the risk from buried weapons.

"I hope that by removing for good these scars of the 1982 conflict, you are taking another step towards defining yourselves as the modern community-spirited place that you have built in the decades since," Prince William said.

The de-mining was carried out by a team from Zimbabwe under a UK-funded programme which started in 2009.

The team completed its dangerous mission three years ahead of schedule.

Prince William singled out the Zimbabwean de-mining staff for their work "over the years in very difficult and dangerous conditions".

His words echoed those of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who championed the outlawing of land mines.

She famously walked through a partially-cleared minefield in Angola to highlight the issue.

Cover image: Prince William at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory last month.