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Princess Charlotte turns 9! See the sweet photo from her parents to mark the occasion

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

London (CNN) — A photograph of a beaming Princess Charlotte has been released by the Prince and Princess of Wales to mark her ninth birthday.

The celebratory snap was posted to the couple’s official social media accounts on Thursday with a note of thanks “for all the kind messages today.” The photo is credited to Catherine, Princess of Wales, and was taken in the last few days in Windsor.

It’s the second photo in as many weeks from the Waleses, who last week celebrated their youngest son, Prince Louis’ sixth birthday. Prince William and Kate have made it a tradition to release portraits of their children each year to mark their birthdays.

This is the second instance where we’ve seen a shift in the release of the photograph from the Waleses. Previously, Kensington Palace would send the portrait out to media outlets under embargo so that the press could prepare for its release. After the furor over Kate’s recent Mother’s Day photo, which was found to have been digitally altered, the palace’s release process has adjusted. The new photo has not been verified by CNN.

Kensington Palace appears to be reclaiming some of the control and narrative by only posting to social accounts on the day, aware that any lack of honesty or sense of inauthenticity will spark all sorts of conspiracy theories like it did last time.

It’s been a difficult start to 2024 for Britain’s royal family. Kate has been away from her public duties since Christmas and is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.

Princess Charlotte was last seen in public during the British royal family’s traditional Christmas Day walk to church on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. The nine-year-old was also seen earlier in December alongside her parents and siblings at her mother annual carol concert at Westminster Abbey in London.

At a visit to a school in the UK’s West Midlands last week, Charlotte’s father Prince William shared her favorite joke with students of St Michael’s Church of England High School – a “knock knock” gag involving an interrupting cow.

Charlotte is third in line to the throne, after her father and older brother Prince George. And while she may be one of the younger members of the family, her mom revealed in 2017 that she is “the one in charge.”

Royal-watchers may remember a clip of Charlotte at her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral in 2022, where she appeared to be reminding her elder brother George to bow as the late monarch’s coffin passed them at Wellington Arch. She was also spotted at a previous Trooping the Colour parade in London stopping her younger brother, Prince Louis, from waving perhaps a little too enthusiastically to the crowds as their carriage drove by.

Meanwhile, the little royal won hearts last year with her regal twinning with her mother when the pair attended King Charles’ coronation. For her grandfather’s big day, Charlotte wore a mini-me version of her mom’s ivory silk dress and silver headpiece.

Charlotte is the first British princess who wasn’t overtaken in the line of succession by a younger brother. That’s because her grandmother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, changed the rules with the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 so that all royal children born after 2011 would have an equal right to the throne regardless of gender.

Two years later, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana was born on May 2, 2015 at St. Mary’s Hospital in west London. The change meant that did not lose her position in the line of succession after Prince Louis was born in 2018.

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CNN’s Max Foster and Cat Nicholls contributed to this story.

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