Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have released a family photo with their son Prince George, a week ahead of their official visit to New Zealand and Australia.
It is just the third official official release of photos of Prince George and shows him with his parents aged eight months at their home in Kensington Palace, London.
It was taken by photographer Jason Bell, who also took the official photos for Prince George’s christening, last October.
The family will be in New Zealand and Australia from April 7 to 25 but it’s unclear what opportunities the public in both countries will have to glimpse the youngest royal in person.
Announcing the royal couple’s planned engagements earlier this month, the Prince’s private secretary identified occasions at which the youngest royal might be present, but kept an element of suspense:
“George being just a little over eight-months-old by the time they travel, I’m sure you will appreciate that the couple will have to make a final decision on those moments much closer to the time.”
Prince George’s first official photo was taken by his maternal grandfather, Michael Middleton. It showed Prince William and Catherine — the latter holding Prince George swaddled in a white blanket — on the lawn of her parents’ home in Berkshire.
New Zealanders may be hoping their country provides the backdrop for an updated version of that photo during the royal tour, after all, Prince William was recorded taking his first steps on the lawn of Government House in Auckland on his first visit, in 1983.
The Duke last visited New Zealand after the devastating 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. On this trip, the royal couple will visit the city together and stop to remember the 185 people killed.
As well as being Prince George’s first visit Down Under, his mother Catherine will be making her debut.
“There’s no hiding the enthusiasm for the visit by both the Duke and the Duchess. The Duke, because he has been before; and the Duchess because she has never been to either country but has wanted to do so as long as she can remember,” Kensington Palace said in its earlier announcement.
The pair may not always be in complete agreement on their trip, however.
Kensington Palace said the Duke and Duchess were “just a little competitive” and some of the events on the itinerary will pit husband against wife.
The royal couple will board separate Team NZ America’s Cup yachts for some informal racing in Auckland and coach rival teams in “rippa” rugby, a non-contact version of Rugby Union, in the South Island city of Dunedin.
A century after the outbreak of World War I, the tour will also see William and Kate paying tribute to both countries’ war dead and visiting military bases.
Their last day will be April 25 — ANZAC [Australian and New Zealand Army Corps] Day, which originally marked the landing of soldiers from both nations at Gallipoli, Turkey, in 1915. In the eight-month campaign fought there, 2,721 New Zealanders and 8,709 Australians died, before the allied forces withdrew. The day is now a tribute to those who have died in all conflicts.
The Duke and Duchess will plant a seed from a pine tree at the site of the battle at the Australian War Memorial in Australia’s capital city, Canberra, before returning to London.