As photos go, this one appears ordinary at first glance. A man. His wife. Their baby. A dog.
But stare long enough and the casual touches recede and you realize this is a formal portrait for an informal age: Prince George of Cambridge, age eight months, and his attentive black pooch, both watched over by smiling parents.
The photo — released Saturday by Britain's Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, better known as Prince William and his bride, the former Kate Middleton — is just the third official photo of the monarchy's prince, snapped at their mottled brick-façade home in Kensington Palace, once the domicile of William's mother, Princess Diana Spencer.
Taken by Jason Bell, who also took Prince George's christening shots last fall, the photograph neatly frames the quartet in a white window, their images stark against a jet black background. Kate and William smile contentedly, while their son appears distracted by the family dog — a black cocker spaniel named Lupo, or "wolf" in Italian — who returns the baby's direct gaze.
He's a well-dressed baby, already wearing bespoke fashion. He's got on a baby blue sweater (or jumper, as the British call it) with his name emblazoned in white across his chest. The Daily Mail, of course, tracked down the details: It's cashmere, believed to be from the royal favorite wool mill, Johnston's of Elgin, Scotland.
Although the royal family will be traveling to New Zealand and Australia from April 7 to 25, it remains to be seen how much residents of those former British colonies — both of which have strong historical and emotional ties to England — will see the wee prince.
"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 time," Prince William's private secretary announced earlier this month.
New Zealanders in particular may be hoping that history repeats itself; Prince William was photographed taking his very first steps while on a visit to Auckland with his parents, Prince Charles and Diana, in 1983.