May 16, 2007 12:10 PM

Britain’s Prince Harry will not be heading to Iraq to serve with his regiment, PEOPLE confirmed Wednesday.

The head of the British Army cited the threat not only to the prince’s safety but to those around him, saying the young royal would be a magnet for insurgents. He also said media coverage had hindered security for the prince.

Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said in a statement: “There have been a number of specific threats, some reported, and some not reported, which relate directly to Prince Harry as an individual. These threats place not only him but also those around him a degree of risk that I now deem unacceptable.”

He added, “I know Prince Harry will be extremely disappointed and his soldiers will miss his presence in Iraq.”

In February, it was reported that the prince, 22, a trained reconnaissance troop commander, was preparing to serve in the war-torn nation with his regiment, the Blues and Royals, despite the security threat.

Harry had said he was ready to fight. In 2005, during an interview to mark his 21st birthday, he said, “There’s no way I’m going to put myself through Sandhurst [Military Academy] and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country.”

However, his military career can still go forward, according to Sir Richard. “I’ve asked his commanding officer to develop his future career but I won’t speculate on that,” he said.

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