A heartwarming new photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge cradling Prince Louis after his christening was released by Kensington Palace today.

Louis, 12 weeks old today, slept through the entire ceremony but was pictured alert and with a wide opened-mouth smile as he was held upright by his mother in the gardens of Clarence House.

The new picture taken by Matt Porteous was released on social media at 10am today, nearly 12 hours after Kensington Palace put out another four shots by Matt Holyoak from the day last night.

Little Prince Louis with his mother, Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge. Photo / Matt Porteous, Kensington Palace
Little Prince Louis with his mother, Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge. Photo / Matt Porteous, Kensington Palace

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The palace tweeted this morning: "The Duke and Duchess hope that everyone enjoys this lovely photograph of Prince Louis as much as they do."

Louis was wearing a replica of the royal christening robe, made of fine Honiton lace lined with white satin, which was created in 1841 for Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, Victoria, the Princess Royal.

That gown was worn for all subsequent royal baptisms including the present Queen, her children and grandchildren.

But by 2008 it was clear the gown was becoming delicate and the Queen's senior dresser Angela Kelly ran up a hand-made replica in order to preserve the original.

Kate wore a cream Alexander McQueen dress with floral headpiece by Jane Taylor, and her long hair was swept back in a bun.

The latest photograph of Louis and his mother released by Kensington Palace was taken by Mr Porteous, who also took Prince George's third birthday portrait.

He was asked by William and Kate to take some private shots for their personal family album, in addition to the 'historic' formal portraits captured by official photographer Mr Holyoak.

But aides said the couple loved this particular picture so much that they decided to release it to the public today.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their families and their children. Photo / Matt Holyoak
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their families and their children. Photo / Matt Holyoak

A statement released by Kensington Palace said: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have released an additional photograph taken at the christening of Prince Louis on Monday,July 9.

"The photograph was taken by Matt Porteous in the garden at Clarence House, following Prince Louis's baptism at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace.

"Their Royal Highnesses hope that everyone enjoys this lovely photograph of Prince Louis as much as they do."

Mr Porteous said: "It was an honour and a privilege to photograph the christening of Prince Louis."