William & Kate Will Face Forced Separation Next Year
11/10/2011 AT 12:30 PM EST
The couple will be temporarily separated February through March as helicopter pilot William, 29, is posted to the remote Falkland Islands as part of his Royal Air Force career.
But there is some good news: William will be around to celebrate Kate's 30th birthday on Jan. 9, before embarking on his six-week tour with three other members of the Royal Air Force's search and rescue squadron.
William – or Flight Lieutenant Wales, as he is known in the air force – is working toward becoming a captain in the RAF, so this will be valuable experience, insiders say.
"This deployment forms part of a normal squadron crew rotation and will form part of Flt. Lt. Wales's training and career progression as a Search and Rescue pilot within the RAF," a statement from the Ministry of Defense says.
It is thought that the enforced separation is the longest the two will be apart since they reunited after their breakup in 2007.
William and Kate are expected to make their next public appearance Thursday night at St. James's Palace to support the National Memorial Arboretum appeal.