All hail the future king! The royal family celebrated Prince George’s 9th birthday by releasing a new portrait of the young prince.
As is tradition, Prince William and Duchess Kate shared a series of snapshots of their eldest child via the official Cambridges’ Instagram account on Thursday, July 21, one day before George’s 9th birthday.
George, who appeared to be at the beach in the photo, flashed the camera a cheeky grin. He wore a powder blue collared shirt and his sandy hair was parted to the side, perfectly in place.
William and Kate, both 40 — who are also proud parents to Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 9 — post a photo their children every year just ahead of their respective birthdays. The duchess is usually the photographer, capturing sweet moments of her three kids’ unique personalities in each shot.
Last year, the day prior to his 8th birthday, the Cambridges’ Instagram account shared an image of George wearing a blue and orange striped polo shirt, his blonde hair deeply parted to the side. He grinned widely at the camera, as if he were in the middle of laughing.
George, the third in line to the British throne, looked like the perfect mix of both of his parents: While his eyes looked identical to his mom’s, his fair hair and cheeky smile were exactly like his dad’s.
The royal’s 9th birthday snapshot showed just how much he’s grown over the past few years. In the photos shared by Kensington Palace in honor of his 7th birthday in July 2020, the prince looks much younger, wearing a different green shirt in each picture. Though George rocked the same impish grin as he did his year 8 and year 9 photos, his face was still that of a younger kid.
In 2013, George’s birth was the most anticipated royal birth since his father’s in 1982 — 31 years earlier.
Though William and Kate have introduced each of their children to the media soon after they’re welcomed into the world, presenting George to the world was the most nerve-wracking of all. Not only was he the Cambridges’ first-born, but his birth immediately put him high up in the line of succession.
“Yeah, [it was] slightly terrifying, slightly terrifying, I’m not going to lie,” Kate said in a February 2020 interview on the “Happy Mum, Happy Baby” podcast about introducing baby George to the public, which she did outside of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London, just one day after she gave birth to her oldest son.
“Everyone had been so supportive, and both William and I were really conscious that this was something that everyone was excited about and, you know, we’re hugely grateful for the support that the public had shown us,” the University of St. Andrews alum continued, noting, “Actually for us to be able to share that joy and appreciation with the public, I felt was really important. But equally it was coupled with a newborn baby, and inexperienced parents, and the uncertainty of what that held, so there were all sorts of mixed emotions.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Us Weekly.