-- One year ago today the world was waiting with bated breath for news from Buckingham Palace on the birth of the next British heir to the throne.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, delivered, literally, and gave birth to a healthy baby boy, his Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.
Now Prince George, as he is called, is a near-toddler with chubby cheeks who has taken his first steps, met a bilby named after him and traveled across the world to Australia and New Zealand with his mom and dad.
“He's got a good pair of lungs on him, that's for sure,” George’s father, Prince William, has said of his first-born son.
The royal family marked George’s first birthday by releasing two official photos Monday showing George fascinated by a butterfly exhibit with his mom and dad.
The images were shot July 2 at the Sensational Butterflies exhibit at London's Natural History Museum by John Stillwell of the Press Association wire service in the U.K. Stillwell also took the photo released Saturday of George, dressed in overalls, taking steps on his own at the exhibit.
Today, the Royals are celebrating with a family birthday party for Prince George. Kate's parents and two siblings, Pippa and James, will attend, along with Prince Harry, George's uncle, and Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter and one of George’s godparents, and her husband, rugby star Mike Tindall.
George's great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, was seen arriving at Kensington Palace today for hte festivities. Kate made a visit to Buckingham Palace, the Queen's residence, earlier today, where a rendition of "Happy Birthday" played outside the Palace gates in honor of Prince George.
Emilia D’Erlanger, a friend of Kate’s from school and one of George’s godparents, was also spotted arriving at Kensington Palace today for the festivities, in addition to Jamie Lowther Pinkerton, another of George's godparents and the long-time private secretary to his parents, who was seen arriving with a birthday present in hand.
Missing from the birthday celebrations will be George's paternal grandparents, Prince Charles and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, who are vacationing in Scotland.
The celebrations mark the end of a year of “firsts” for the royals, from the first official photo released of the 8-pound, 6-ounce heir to the throne, to the first Christening photo that showed him surrounded by his relatives, including the queen, to his first overseas trip, a nearly three-week official trip to Australia and New Zealand where he had his first public playdate and got at least one marriage proposal.
Prince George stole the show again on Father’s Day, where he was spotted, again dressed in overalls, at Prince William's polo match, kicking a quilted soccer ball and wriggling around the field where his father was playing.
In addition to the official photos, Kate and William, both 32, issued a statement to mark their first son's first birthday.
"We would like to take this opportunity on George's first birthday to thank everyone over the last year, wherever we have met them, both at home and overseas, for their warm and generous good wishes to George and our family," they said.