Suzanne Plunkett/Landov
Simon Perry
February 01, 2012 11:00 AM

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are set to spend their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple apart.

Helicopter pilot William, 29, is expected to leave soon for a six-week stint in the Falkland Islands, a tiny territory off the coast of Argentina, 18 hours flying time from the U.K.

He will help make up one of two helicopter search-and-rescue crews supporting his country’s small garrison on the disputed islands in the south Atlantic.

Diplomatic tensions have been rising as the 30th anniversary of the U.K.’s war with Argentina over the Falklands looms. In 1982, Argentina briefly occupied the territory. Today, as then, the 3,000 who people live there consider themselves British.

Though spouses are not allowed to accompany Royal Air Force servicemen and women to the South Atlantic islands, Kate, at least, will have the company of the couple’s new lively cocker-spaniel puppy.

Meanwhile, Kate, 30, is expected to announce her first solo royal duties any day now, as she starts publicly visiting those charities she has chosen to patronize.

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