Prince George has engaged in a little skulduggery at his first major public engagement, stealing toys from his subjects at a New Zealand playgroup.
The eight-month-old heir to the British throne took a shine to a fellow baby's Mary-Lou doll and with royal prowess, plucked it from the little girl's hands before throwing it to the ground, prompting her to burst into tears.
Prince George's mother, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wearing a black and white Tony Burch dress, smiled as she picked the doll up.
Only got eyes for mummy: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, holds Prince George. Photo: AFP
Ten babies born within days of Prince George were selected to play with the prince at Government House in Wellington. All of the children are first-borns. They included the daughter of two gay fathers and children of Maori, Samoan, Polish and Oriental descent.
“It's madness, there are babies everywhere!” William, the Duke of Cambridge, said.
It is thought to be the first time Prince George has played with a large group of babies, London's Daily Telegraph reported.
Paly time: Prince George tries out a toy. Photo: AP
‘‘He took control and went into the middle of the circle of toys," one father, Grant Collinge, said of the prince. "He hunted out the biggest toy, propped himself up and owned the place, basically.’’
Prince George had eyes for baby Lily Gray, reaching out for her as she sat in her mother Alana’s arms. Her father, Phil, joked that the playgroup would be their first date - and Prince George’s enthusiasm suggested he wanted a second.
The prince showed the world he is crawling already, moving across the carpet of the Blundell room at Government House as the tots, all eight months old, played under grand chandeliers and formal portraits lining the walls.
Mummy's boy: Prince George with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Photo: AP
He reached for other babies and toys, like any other eight-month-old, and had a go at eating his mother's hair. When she beckoned, he crawled to her to be pulled on to his feet.
Happy chatter and gurgles filled the room as babies crawled between the legs of their parents, the royals and Governor-General Sir Jerry Mataparae.
Occasional wails broke out but on the whole the babies behaved admirably on an occasion which will be retold to them their whole lives.
The Duchess of Cambridge picks up a doll after Prince George threw it. Photo: AFP
At 3.30pm all 11 sets of parents sat in a circle on the thick carpet, the babies getting stuck into their toys while the parents talked.
‘‘Even though we come from a very different background we have got a lot in common with the Duke and Duchess because we’ve been through the sleepless nights and we can talk to them about our experiences.’’ Parent Kate Bainbridge said before the play session.
The Duchess' knee-length dress was paired with black high-heel shoes and was chosen for its New Zealand colour theme, a royal press secretary said.
The Duke wore a blue shirt, jeans and brown loafers, while the young prince wore a pair of smocked navy dungarees, designed by Rachel Riley.
At 4pm the royal family left the engagement, leaving the other parents to exchange their views on the most remarkable play date their children are likely to go on.
Parental support group the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society organised the playgroup.