Prince George
The Royal family posed by a window at Kensington Palace for the informal photo. Jason Bell

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have released an official family photo with their son Prince George, ahead of Mothering Sunday.

The intimate portrait shows the 8-month-old Prince wearing a personalised jumper and gazing fondly at the family dog, a cocker spaniel named Lupo, while his mother and father look out of a window at Kensington Palace for the informal picture. T

The Prince's custom made, pale blue jumper inscribed with his name lends to the informality of the image.

It's a departure from the early photos of Prince William as a toddler, who was often seen looking every inch a royal, dressed primly in pastel romper suits and lace-trimmed tops.

Taken by award-winning photographer Jason Bell, the image reflects the casual informality favoured by Prince William and Kate and their very modern approach to royal life.

Bell was also enlisted to take the official photos of George's christening, while the Prince's maternal grandfather Michael Middleton took the first image of the young royal family with their new addition, shortly after George's birth.

Prince George in his first family photograph with his parents, Kate Middleton and Prince William. Christening photos will be George's first official portraits. (Photo: Clarence House)
Prince George in his first family photograph with his parents, Kate Middleton and Prince William.

The third official photo comes as the royal couple prepare for their tour of New Zealand and Australia with Prince George accompanying them.

The Prince's private secretary could not confirm however, whether the young Prince will be present at the official royal engagements during the tour.

"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," he said.

Royal watchers will recall that 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.

The royal family's trip is being eagerly anticipated.

"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 an earlier announcement.

Kensington Palacesaid the Duke and Duchess were "just a little competitive" and some of the events in their extensive itinerary will pit husband against wife.

It was revealed that the royal couple, who are keen sports enthusiasts, 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. 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.

The family's newly appointed super nanny will be accompanying them on the three week tour.