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Prince Harry Loses Legal Fight for Police Protection in the U.K.

The Duke of Sussex has been seeking to overturn a decision made by the U.K. government when he and Meghan Markle stepped back from their royal roles

<p>Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty</p> Prince Harry on Sept. 7, 2023 in London

Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty

Prince Harry on Sept. 7, 2023 in London

Prince Harry has lost his legal challenge to have police security in the U.K.

The Duke of Sussex had argued that he should have automatic protection for himself and his family whenever they visit the U.K. from their home in California after the U.K. authorities stripped away the right in February 2020, shortly after he and wife Meghan Markle stepped back from official royal duties.

In a statement in December, Harry said he "felt forced" to step back from his royal role and leave the U.K. in 2020, citing security concerns for his family: his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and their two children, son Prince Archie, 4, and Princess Lilibet, 2.

On Wednesday, however, High Court judge Peter Lane upheld the decision by the U.K. government and, specifically, the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (RAVEC) to downgrade his security.

<p>Neil Mockford/GC Images</p> Prince Harry at another court hearing in London in June 2023

Neil Mockford/GC Images

Prince Harry at another court hearing in London in June 2023

"The court has found that there has not been any unlawfulness in reaching the decision of 28 February 2020," Lane ruled in documents seen by PEOPLE. "The decision was not irrational. The decision was not marred by procedural unfairness."

"The court has also found that there has been no unlawfulness on the part of RAVEC in respect of its arrangements for certain of the claimant’s visits to Great Britain," the ruling added.

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Harry is now going to appeal against the decision. “The Duke is not asking for preferential treatment, but for a fair and lawful application of RAVEC’s own rules, ensuring that he receives the same consideration as others in accordance with RAVEC’s own written policy," a legal spokesperson said in a statement to PEOPLE on Wednesday.

"In February 2020, RAVEC failed to apply its written policy to The Duke of Sussex and excluded him from a particular risk analysis," the statement continued. "The Duke’s case is that the so-called 'bespoke process' that applies to him, is no substitute for that risk analysis."

"The Duke of Sussex hopes he will obtain justice from the Court of Appeal, and makes no further comment while the case is ongoing.”

<p>ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images</p> Prince Harry arrives to the Royal Courts of Justice in June 2023

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Prince Harry arrives to the Royal Courts of Justice in June 2023

In December 2023, lawyers for Harry argued against the February 2020 decision to remove the prince's automatic right to U.K. police security. Although Prince Harry offered to cover the costs of security, the bid was rejected.

In a statement to the High Court in London at the time, Harry, 39, said that he needed the police security for his children "to feel at home" in his native country — something that he said can't happen "if there is no possibility to keep them safe when they are on U.K. soil."

"The U.K. is my home. The U.K. is central to the heritage of my children and a place I want them to feel at home as much as where they live at the moment in the United States," Harry continued. "That cannot happen if there is no possibility to keep them safe when they are on U.K. soil."

"I can't put my wife in danger like that, and given my experiences in life, I'm reluctant to unnecessarily put myself in harm's way too."

<p>Andrew Chin/Getty </p> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Whistler, Canada, on Valentines Day

Andrew Chin/Getty

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Whistler, Canada, on Valentines Day

Related: Prince Harry Fights for Police Protection in the U.K., Arguing the Potential 'Impact' of a Successful Attack

As the decision was announced on Wednesday, Harry's father King Charles, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, was photographed being driven away from his London home. Harry briefly visited his father on Feb. 6, jetting across the Atlantic as soon as the news became public the day earlier.

Since their move to California in 2020, Meghan and Harry have only brought their children to the U.K. once: in 2022 when they attended Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee celebrations and marked Lili's first birthday at Frogmore Cottage, their former U.K. home in Windsor.

<p>Leon Neal/Getty Images</p> Prince Harry arrives at tge Royal Courts of Justice in June 2023

Leon Neal/Getty Images

Prince Harry arrives at tge Royal Courts of Justice in June 2023

In December, the U.K. government's Home Office said that Harry would have "bespoke arrangements, specifically tailored to him" rather than the automatic security afforded other working royals, the BBC reported.

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