Prince George and Princess Charlotte star in new Christmas family portrait

Chloe Best

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, have released a new family portrait as an early Christmas present to their well-wishers. The royal couple are joined by their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte in the photo, which is only the second official portrait of the family of four.

The image was taken in late October in the grounds of Kensington Palace by photographer Chris Jelf. The happy family are the picture of happiness, with Prince William keeping a watchful eye on a playful Prince George while Kate balances Princess Charlotte on her knee. The seven-month-old is wearing the same m&h floral dress and pink cardigan as seen in her first solo official portrait which was released at the end of November.

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The Cambridges have released a family photo ahead of Christmas

The photo was shared on the official Kensington Palace Instagram account on Friday morning, with the caption: "A new family photo – Merry Christmas from The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

"The Duke and Duchess are hugely appreciative of all the warm messages they have received about their family this year and are very much looking forward to their first Christmas as a family of four."

Unsurprisingly it quickly proved popular with royal enthusiasts who left comments about the "beautiful family" and expressed how "cute" the young royals are.

A closer look at the photo reveals some little details which make it look like any normal family snap. Princess Charlotte's shoe lies on the floor, and just to the left, a little red train - which is no doubt one of George's favourites. The wooden pull-along toy, which is a replica of a Victorian steam train, is available from orangetreetoys.com for £14.99 and is sure to sell out rapidly.

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Princess Charlotte wore the same dress in her first solo official portrait

Chris Jelf, the photographer chosen to take the family photo, said: "I thoroughly enjoyed photographing a very lovely family, although you have to be sharp as you don't have long when there are two young children involved!

"I hope everyone enjoys this photo and I am honoured that The Duke and Duchess have decided to share it with the public."

Royal enthusiasts may next get the opportunity to see the family together as they attend the morning service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate on Christmas Day. While Princess Charlotte may be too young to attend, it is hoped that Prince George may make the trip to church with his family for the first time.

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