Prince Louis beams in new birthday photo taken by mother Princess Kate

Prince Louis
Prince Louis

Prince Louis is growing up so fast as the Prince and Princess of Wales share a new photograph to mark their youngest child's sixth birthday.

The unedited portrait, taken in the last few days in Windsor by Princess Kate, shows Louis wearing a checked shirt, lying on a blanket on the grass while smiling towards the camera.

In the caption, doting mum Kate wrote: "Happy 6th Birthday, Prince Louis! [Birthday cake emoji] Thank you for all the kind wishes today."

The sweet image was followed by a camera emoji and attributed to the Princess of Wales.

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HELLO! understands that the royal couple wanted to share the image to thank those who have sent birthday wishes while Kate continues with her recovery.

The new picture was posted straight to social media on Louis' actual birthday, rather than under embargo the night before, as was the established pattern William and Kate have followed each year for all three of their children since they were born. It is understood to be due to the unprecedented time the family is experiencing, the royals are said to be cognisant of the fact that they have asked for privacy during the Princess's recovery.

kate middleton prince george prince louis princess charlotte mothers day
Kate with George, Charlotte and Louis on Mother's Day (The Prince of Wales)

It's the first time Louis has been seen since the release of the Mother's Day photograph, which showed Kate with her three children at their home in Windsor, just two months after undergoing abdominal surgery.

The sweet family shot sparked speculation after the Princess admitted to "editing" the image, which featured a number of irregularities.

Less than two weeks later, Kate announced in a moving video message that she is undergoing preventative chemotherapy after cancer was found present in post-operative tests following her surgery.

The mother-of-three said to camera: "It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK.

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Prince George of Wales look on alongside Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa during the UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24 Quarter-final
William took George to a Villa match during the Easter holidays (Getty)

"As I have said to them; I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body and spirits."

The Prince and Princess spent the Easter holidays privately with their three children, Prince George, ten, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis.

William was spotted at an Aston Villa match with George on 11 March, around a week before the children returned to their classrooms at Lambrook school in Berkshire to begin the new term.

The Prince resumed his royal duties last week, helping out at a food distribution charity in Surrey as they dropped off a delivery in west London.

William and Kate on steps of the Lindo Wing with baby Prince Louis
William and Kate with newborn Louis in 2018 (Getty)

As William arrived at Surplus to Supper, which is based at Sunbury Cricket Club, he told his hosts: "Louis loves cricket."

At the age of six, Louis has passed some incredible milestones. Born Prince Louis Arthur Charles on 23 April 2018 at the Lindo Wing at St Mary's hospital, he made his debut on the Buckingham Palace balcony at his first Trooping the Colour just 14 months later.

While he's yet to make his royal tour debut, Louis witnessed his late great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee in 2022 and his grandfather King Charles' coronation in May 2023.

Prince Louis waving from balcony at Trooping the Colour
Louis' first balcony appearance at the age of one (Getty)

He enthusiastically carried out his first official engagement as he and his family helped out at a scout group in Slough following the coronation.

Having begun his education in London when the Waleses lived at Kensington Palace, Louis started at Lambrook school at the same time as George and Charlotte in September 2022, following the family's move to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor.