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Prince George shows off cheeky grin in official photo released ahead of 2nd birthday

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Prince George's dad Prince William recently told reporters that his son was "a little monkey" – and the toddler Prince's cheeky personality certainly shines through in the new official portrait released by Kensington Palace ahead of his 2nd birthday.

The photo shows the rosy-cheeked charmer, who turns two on Wednesday, flashing a mischevious grin at the camera as he sits in William's arms.

The photo was taken by Mario Testino following Princess Charlotte's christening on 5 July, and sees an excited Prince George looking as cute as ever in his red shorts and matching smocked top by Rachel Riley.

The image was shared on the official Kensington Palace Twitter and Instagram sites on Tuesday afternoon to the delight of royal fans, who quickly commented on how adorable the young Prince looked.

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"Look who's turning two tomorrow! #HappyBirthdayPrinceGeorge", read the caption under the photo.

Photographer Mario Testino shared the image with his own Twitter followers, writing: "The Duke of Cambridge with his son Prince George, who turns two years old tomorrow!!"

Kensington Palace announced that a new photo of Prince George would be released on Tuesday morning, telling its 550,000 Twitter followers: "We'll be sharing a special photo of Prince George later ahead of his birthday tomorrow. Watch this space! #HappyBirthdayPrinceGeorge".

PrinceGeorge1 © Photo: PA

A similar portrait of Prince George was released after Princess Charlotte's christening

George is expected to celebrate his special day with a low-key birthday party organised by his mother the Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, on Wednesday. Kate has reportedly done most of the planning for the family gathering, which will be held at the family's Norfolk home Anmer Hall.

It is not known whether Prince William will be able to attend the party as he may be on a shift with the East Anglian Air Ambulance, but it is expected that his grandparents Carole and Michael Middleton will pay George a visit along with his aunt and uncle Pippa and James Middleton.

The Queen will also be a guest of honour at the party, much like she was during his first birthday celebrations at Kensington Palace.

The release of the new official photo comes less than two weeks after the palace published family portraits from Princess Charlotte's christening. The photos, also taken by Mario Testino, include a shot of George sitting alongside his parents, baby sister and great-grandmother the Queen for a beautiful family portrait.