The portrait, taken in late October by photographer Chris Jelf, shows a relaxed-looking Duke and Duchess of Cambridge crouching down with their children George and Charlotte amid the autumn leaves at Kensington Palace.
The image was used on the Christmas cards sent out to the couple’s family and friends, but they liked it so much they decided to also share it with the world.
It is the first time the family has released a photograph at Christmas and only the second official portrait of the family of four.
The release coincides with the announcement that William and Kate have opted to send two-year-old George to local nursery Westacre (below) – just a few minutes drive from Anmer Hall, their country home.
“We are looking forward to welcoming George to our nursery where he will get the same special experience as all of our children,” Westacre Montessori School Nursery says in a statement.
It will cost the couple $11.40 per hour– or $68.50 per day – to send their son to the school, which is significantly cheaper than similar London establishments.
Of the 27 children enrolled there, 23 are in receipt of funding to help pay the fees.
The prince will attend the school from January, 2016, for a handful of mornings a week while William works as a pilot for East Anglian Air Ambulance.
The school, in the tiny village of East Walton, is situated on a private road which, the couple hope, will help their son enjoy his time there away from the spotlight. George will not attend a nursery while in London, say reports.
In its publicity, Westacre says it places an emphasis on creativity, freedom to move within the classroom and developing a sense of independence through child-centred education. There are 700 Montessori schools in the UK.
Celebrities who have gone through the Montessori school system include George Clooney, Taylor Swift, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Larry Page, the founder of Google.