• Prince George turned 9 years old Friday
  • Prince William and Kate Middleton released a new photo of their eldest son Thursday to celebrate the occasion
  • Royal fans sent birthday greetings to the future monarch and gushed over his resemblance to his dad

Prince William and Kate Middleton released a new portrait of Prince George to mark his ninth birthday.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's eldest son turned another year older Friday, and to celebrate the milestone, Prince William and Middleton shared a photo of Prince George flashing the camera a big smile. In the snap, the young royal sported a blue polo shirt as he posed in what appeared to be a beach.

"George is turning 9!" the photo was captioned on Twitter and Instagram Thursday, along with a birthday cake and balloon emoji.

The shot was taken by Middleton. The Cambridges have made it a tradition to release new portraits of their three children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4 — on their birthdays or milestones with the duchess behind the camera.

The new photo of Prince George was taken when the family was enjoying a vacation in the U.K. earlier this month, People reported.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to share a new photograph of Prince George ahead of his ninth birthday tomorrow," the couple said in a statement obtained by the outlet.

Royal fans flooded the post with sweet messages for the birthday boy. Some also gushed over his close resemblance to his dad.

"Happy birthday, George!!!!! Our girl turned 9 this year, and she thinks George is the best!!!! Lots of love from Nova Scotia, Canada," one Twitter user commented.

"What a beautiful new picture of Prince George! His smile is contagious. Wishing a very happy and healthy 9th birthday to this adorable little man! I hope he will have a great, super fun day and a wonderful new year," a second person wrote.

"He is William's twin," another claimed, sharing a photo of Prince George alongside a snap of Prince William when he was about his eldest son's age.

"Wills? [Is that you]?" a fourth user wrote. "In all seriousness, I hope he keeps that unfiltered joyous smile! Happy birthday, George."

For Prince George's eighth birthday last year, Middleton snapped a photo of her son sitting on the hood of a car, smiling for the camera in a blue polo shirt with orange stripes.

The portrait was believed to be a subtle tribute to Prince Philip, who died in April 2021 at the age of 99.

Prince George seemed to be sitting on a Land Rover, which was a favorite car of his great-grandfather. Prince Philip even had his casket carried on a custom version of the vehicle for his funeral.

Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince George and Princess Charlotte
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the Easter Matins Service at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2022 in Windsor, England. Jeff Gilbert-WPA Pool/Getty Images