Prince George was the subject of many aww-inducing photos during his family's trip Down Under, but his mother, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, reportedly has one favorite in particular.
A snapshot taken by professional photographer Simon Woolf, also a councillor in New Zealand's Wellington City, was the best of the bunch, he recently told reporters.
George, the third in line to the British throne, showed off his boisterous side during a handful of outings with his parents during the 19-day trip to New Zealand and Australia. The 9-month-old was photographed profusely during the royals' arrivals and departures, during his playdate and later during a trip to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia.
The top photo, taken during the prince's playdate at New Zealand's Government House in Wellington on April 9, shows the wee royal gently resting his head on his mother's shoulder. His dad, Prince William, is seen in the background.
"She said it was just lovely and that it was her favorite photo of the tour," Woolf told reporters (via E! News). The photographer said he gave the duchess a black-and-white version of the shot when the family left New Zealand. He plans to send framed versions to George's grandfather, Prince Charles, and his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, according to Hello.
Woolf was the official New Zealand government photographer, People reported, so he was allowed at each event the royals attended during the nine-day leg of their spring tour. The young prince is said to have just woken up from a nap before the photo was taken --just prior to when other photographers and reporters got access to the trio.
"He just raised his head, smiled and dropped his head back on Princess Catherine's shoulder. And I just got that shot. It was only one shot," he told the magazine. "That photo represented the lovely closeness of the family. I was so totally reassured that it is a great relationship."
The former wedding photographer told other outlets that "there was a bit of a plan for a [staged] family photo but it fell to pieces because they allowed George to sleep for an extra half-hour."
The shot, which shows the king-to-be in navy overall shorts by Rachel Riley that featured a sailboat, was released by Government House and has been on the cover of Hello, featured in the U.K.'s Sun, Telegraph and seen on television networks worldwide. Woolf estimated that it had been seen more that 1 billion times, according to New Zealand's Stuff. The outlet also said Woolf didn't get paid specifically for the photograph because images were pooled by media throughout the trip.
''I didn't know until I got it on the computer to see how sharp it was," Woolf said, noting that the lighting at first hadn't seemed to be in his favor.
The photo mirrored a similar moment in 1983 when Prince William joined his parents, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, during their tour Down Under. The young prince was photographed on a rug at Auckland's Government House.
A Kensington Palace spokesperson said the tour had "been an incredible experience for both the duke and duchess and the couple really have enjoyed it immensely."
"We always said this would be an opportunity for the duke to introduce both countries to the duchess and Prince George, and the couple have been bowled over by the extraordinarily warm welcome shown to them as a family by people everywhere they went."
While many of the photo ops seemed natural and candid, others were reportedly staged in advance with a handful appearing to be truly candid. Other charming shots taken by Australian media were not printed in Britain, the Telegraph said.
The newspaper pointed out that Kensington Palace requested that the batch of photos taken during the family's visit to Canberra's Government House on April 21 not be published. The images are said to feature Catherine and her son playing on the grounds. Australian TV crews also documented the duke and duchess strolling hand-in-hand and "looking so happy that at one point the duchess jumped up and tried to click her heels together in the air like Charlie Chaplin," the newspaper's Gordon Rayner said.
The palace argued that the images, which were taken with zoom lenses, invaded the couple's privacy.
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