The future king of England is growing up.
Thursday will mark Prince George of Cambridge’s 8th birthday, as the third in line to the British throne continues to grow, looking more and more the spitting image of his father, Prince William. The evening before, Kensington Palace released a new photo of the smiling young royal, who is seen perched on a Land Rover and dressed in a casual striped shirt.
The picture was taken in Norfolk, where Queen Elizabeth’s Sandringham estate is located and the Cambridges have a country retreat, Anmer Hall.
Tradition has dictated the royals release new photos to commemorate family members’ birthdays each year: Will and his wife, Duchess Kate, have previously shared special shots of their three children on each of their birthdays, a custom they started on George’s first birthday. Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have created an amended version of that tradition since stepping down as senior royals and moving to California.
Some royal commentators speculated the Cambridges would not do so this year after some unkind internet comments in the past. This turned out not to be the case – though had it been, fans of the royals still would have had a new glimpse of George this year.
He stepped out with his parents last week for England’s Euro 2020 finals, sporting a striped red and blue tie with a blazer – a look that garnered some commentary online pitying the young boy for having to dress up for a soccer match while the rest of the stadium donned jerseys and T-shirts. Sandwiched between William and Kate, George also became an instant meme with his animated cheering.
By contrast, the annual birthday photos are more casual than last week’s business attire ensemble. Last year, George posed for shots in two different outfits: one with an olive green polo and another in a camouflage T-shirt. In some of the photos, he was joined by younger siblings Charlotte, 6, and Louis, 3.
Avid amateur photographer Kate was, as usual, the one behind the camera.
Last year’s celebration: Prince George turns 7! Duchess Kate shares new photos of the young royal
His parents have been careful in doling out snapshots of their children, in part to protect their privacy while growing up. Even these birthday pictures are carefully controlled by the palace, which imposes deadlines, usually Dec. 31, after which the media can’t use them without permission.
George, like his father, was born in London’s St. Mary’s Hospital, and even before he made his appearance, he was the world’s most famous baby. A mob of reporters, cameramen and royal fans, some of whom had been there for weeks, jostled in the street in front of the hospital door, shouting questions, cheering and applauding as the couple came out and introduced the new royal heir to a nation giddy with excitement.
“He has a good pair of lungs on him,” William told onlookers, barely audible above the noise of the crowd. “He’s a big boy; he’s quite heavy.” The baby, at that point unnamed, was 8 pounds, 6 ounces.
“It was very emotional, it is such a special time; any parent knows what this feeling is like,” Kate added.
Contributing: Maria Puente
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prince George birthday: See Kate Middleton’s new photo of 8-year-old