It’s hard to believe he’s already reached double digits.
But smiling confidently into the camera, Prince George suddenly looks more grown up than ever as he celebrates his 10th birthday on Saturday.
Always slightly shy around the cameras, the future king appears remarkably relaxed and at ease as he poses for favourite professional photographer Millie Pilkington at Windsor earlier this month.
According to tradition, the picture was shared by his parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, to mark their eldest son’s birthday and thank the public and media for the support and respect for privacy that their young family has received.
George is the spitting image of his father, dressed in the check shirt, chinos and brown lace-up brown suede brogues that William also favours as a smart/casual look.
Smiling confidently into the camera, Prince George suddenly looks more grown up than ever as he celebrates his 10th birthday on Saturday
But his sparking hazel-green eyes are all his mother’s.
Like his sister Princess Charlotte, eight, and five-year-old brother, Prince Louis, he is a pupil at Lambrook in Berkshire.
The Mail understands that the children have all settled in ‘famously’ at their new school and are loving their life at Windsor, where they now live in Adelaide Cottage on the royal estate.
George has represented his school at cricket this term and is proving to be A formidably good swimmer and sailor, talents inherited from both his parents.
In recent weeks he has made an appearance at the Wimbledon finals as well as the Royal International Air Tattoo, and taken a key role as Page of Honour in his grandfather’s coronation.
It’s all part of a plan by his parents to slowly and carefully introduce the future monarch to life on the public stage, while ensuring he has a happy, carefree and protected childhood as possible.
Last month George was seen visiting Eton College with his parents, touring the £45,000-a-year private school which is just a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle.
Last year the Daily Mail exclusively revealed he was being earmarked for his father’s former boarding school at the age of 13.
A picture of Prince George, just before turning one years old, alongside his parents during a visit to the Sensational Butterflies exhibition at the Natural History Museum in July 2014. The image was released to mark his first birthday
Prince George was photographed grinning in his official portrait for his fifth birthday, pictured left. Meanwhile, he appeared this summer at the Wimbledon Men’s Finals alongside his parents
A source said: ‘It’s a natural choice, always has been. Living at Windsor is very much a long-term decision for the Wales’.’
It comes after it emerged George will not be expected to serve in the military before becoming King, breaking centuries of tradition.
The second in line to the throne will be allowed to sidestep the usual stint with the Armed Forces if he wishes, The Mail on Sunday understands, leaving him free to shape his own destiny.
It would be a significant departure for the Royal Family as the monarch is Commander-in-Chief of Britain’s forces. George’s father, uncle, grandfather, great-grandmother and great-grandfather all served with the military, sticking to a centuries-old precedent.
Writing in this newspaper earlier this month, historian Dominic Sandbrook said: ‘The tradition of royals joining the Armed Forces, even for brief periods, lends crucial legitimacy to the monarchy.’
But speaking ahead of Prince George’s tenth birthday on Saturday, a long-time friend of George’s father, Prince William, said: ‘In theory, there is nothing to stop George from pursuing a career as an astronaut, for example, if that’s what he wants, and then becoming King later.
‘The rules are different now, he wouldn’t necessarily have to follow the old formula of going into the military and then Royal life.
The Cambridges (pictured is William with his three children) have embarked on a new life in the country, moving to Adelaide Cottage on the Queen’s Windsor estate last year
AGED 8: This photo of Prince George to mark his eighth birthday shows him sitting on an off-road vehicle synonymous with his great-grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh
‘So, could Charlotte qualify as a doctor, for example? I don’t see why not. It’s less of a fishbowl now than when William and Harry were growing up.’
Historian Hugo Vickers said: ‘This is significant because it shows that times are moving on. I’m all for people keeping up with the times providing they don’t throw tradition out of the window.
‘Maybe the military won’t prove to be the best course for Prince George, although I would hope that he might do something like the Duke of Edinburgh gold award instead, which is non-competitive.
‘For King Charles, his naval service in the 1970s was very helpful. It showed the country that he was gainfully employed and it was a role where he would not be using his title for commercial gain.
Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge was born in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London at 4.24pm on July 22 2013, weighing 8lb 6oz.
He made his public debut in front of the world’s media on the hospital steps one day later, wrapped in a white merino wool shawl, cradled in his mother’s arms.
A great-grandchild to the Queen, he will be the 43rd monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England if, as expected, he follows the reigns of his grandfather, the Prince of Wales, and then his father, William.
Prince George’s memorable moments in photos: From wrapped in a blanket on the steps on the Lindo Wing to cheering on England at Wembley
When George was born, Kate Middleton followed in Princess Diana’s footsteps and stood on the steps of the Lindo Wing of St Mary hospital for the first time – which she has continued to do for the birth of all her children. Pictured, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with newborn Prince George on 23 July 2013
Striped delight! Prince George photographed walking about in official pictures released back in 2014 to mark the young royal’s first birthday (left). He is pictured a few months earlier at a play group at Government House, New Zealand
Prince George – the eldest son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – donned a baby blue ensemble as he was pictured in his father Prince William’s arms during his second Trooping the Colour, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, on 13 June 2015
King of the hill! Prince George, aged two, photographed taking a tumble at the Gigaset Charity Polo Match at the Beaufort Polo Club on June 14, 2015
Cautious mother Kate would make sure to cover her son’s ears with noise canceling headphones to protect his hearing when out in a particularly loud environment. Pictured, Price George on his first birthday
George is pictured with Prince William in a picture released for his second birthday. The photograph was taken in the gardens at Sandringham House and was part of the series of official photographs taken by Mario Testino following Princess Charlotte’s baptism of Princess Charlotte
During the Canada Tour of 2016, George, then three, enjoyed some downtime and was pictured smiling as he played with some bubbles at a children’s tea party at Government House in Victoria on September 29, 2016
A royal wave! George has grown to be more serious in front of the press but in 2016, aged three, he graced the media with a cute wave. Pictured, leaving from Victoria Harbour to board a sea-plane on the final day of their Royal Tour of Canada on October 1, 2016
Merry Christmas! George held onto his father’s hand on Christmas morning 2016, while his sister Charlotte, then one and half, was carried in her mother’s arms. Pictured at Englefield on December 25, 2016
Run, George, run! As an active young boy, the prince is often photographed playing around and running just like he did at the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at Beaufort Park on June 10, 2018 (pictured)
The Cambridge’s oldest children George and Charlotte were on their best behaviour when attending the christening of their younger brother Prince Louis, at the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace on 9 July 2018 (left)
George put on a serious display when he attended the wedding of Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank at St George’s Chapel on October 12, 2018 in Windsor
George the joker! The young Prince was pictured playing tricks on his cousin Isla Phillips at St George Chapel, in Windsor, on the day of Princess Eugenie’s wedding on October 12 2018
Cheeky page boy! The birthday boy couldn’t contain his excitement during Princess Eugenie’s wedding in Windsor on 12 October 2018 – and was pictured with his hand over his mouth in shock
In the official Christmas card from the Cambridge family for Christmas 2018, George showed off his playful side next to a more demure Charlotte and a happy baby Louis
Fire hazard! Prince George helped his father mind a fire in the Adam White and Andree Davies co-designed garden ahead of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London on 19 May 2019 (left), before being joined by his sister, Princess Charlotte, four (right)
Prince George and Princess Charlotte, four, playing together as they attended the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day at Billingbear Polo Club on July 10, 2019 in Wokingham
Prince George was captured playing with his two siblings Princess Charlotte and brother Louis during the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day at the Billingbear Polo Club in Wokingham on July 10 2019
Prince George and Princess Charlotte at Kensington Palace shortly before they left for Thomas’s Battersea for her first day at the school in September 2019
Prince George has joined his family members for NHS Clap for Carers during the coronavirus lockdown from their home of Anmer Hall (pictured left, with Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis in March 2020)
George posed with his father, grandfather and great-grandmother for this shot of ‘Four Monarchs’ taken in January 2020
Prince George, showcased his a toothy grin and windswept blonde locks in his new birthday photographs, which were snapped by Kate Middleton,
In another image, the heir-to-the-throne can be seen beaming at his mother the Duchess of Cambridge behind the camera as she snaps a shot for his seventh birthday
George was also pictured with his parents, brother and sister in their Christmas 2020 card
Kate, 39, who is a keen amateur photographer, also share a photo of her youngsters Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, six, and Prince Louis (pictured together with Prince William) for father’s day
Prince George, seven, and Princess Charlotte, six, showed they are following in their mother’s footsteps with a love of high street fashion as they made an appearance at Sandringham at Father’s Day 2021
George, who has been described as ‘football mad’, was pictured in an England shirt ahead of the 2020 Euros this month
Prince George stole the spotlight as he joined his parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to cheer on the Three Lions in the historic Euro 2020 final at Wembley this month
When he was 8! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared this sweet shot for the youngster’s eighth birthday
Prince George with his family in the Cambridge’s official Christmas photo 2021, taken on their holiday in Jordan in Autumn 2021
Prince George and Prince William visit Cardiff Castle in June for the Platinum Jubilee, it was one of his first public tours with his father
Prince George bakes with his sister Princess Charlotte and brother Prince Louis during the Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations
The youngster loved every minute of the Platinum Pageant during the Platinum celebrations and couldn’t contain his excitement
An adorable photo of the Queen with her great-grandson Prince George while standing on Buckingham Palace’s balcony at the end of the Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations
Prince George attends the Wimbledon Men Single’s final in July with his mother and father, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
‘Military service allows members of the Royal Family to have a sense of normal life, grants them a certain amount of freedom and teaches them all sorts of timekeeping and presentation skills which prove to be important for Royal duties.
‘What clearly doesn’t work are those cases where members of the Royal Family go into commercial ventures. That always goes wrong.’
George showed some early interest in the military at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire on Friday. He was given the task of partially raising the ramp on a huge C-17 transporter aircraft, and was delighted to sit in the cockpit and ‘flick some switches’.
However, his parents the Prince and Princess of Wales have been determined to give him as ‘normal’ an upbringing as possible – which, it appears, includes the freedom to follow his own interests as he grows up.
Mr Sandbrook added: ‘Military service is the last tradition that takes Royal youngsters outside their sheltered lives of impossible privilege.’ But he acknowledged: ‘Times change, and institutions change with them… who can blame him if he would rather pursue a different vocation?’
General Sir Richard Barrons, former head of Joint Forces Command, said: ‘I think the Armed Forces will think that’s a bit of a shame but that’s all they are going to think.’
But he added that a military stint was a useful way for a young Royal to serve in ‘the years between you becoming an adult and when you take on the mantle of King’. And Royal biographer A. N. Wilson came out against the idea, saying: ‘This is a very great change to the way it has always been done and I think he should be told, “Sorry, you can’t choose.”
‘It does feel like a bit of a snub to the Armed Forces. There could be another way in which Prince George does a stint in the Army and then goes on to be an artist or a pastry chef or whatever interests him. On a point which may seem trivial, it is also helpful to have a uniform, otherwise we may as well have a President in a suit as our head of state.’