Prince Louis photo taken by Kate Middleton released to mark sixth birthday

Britain's Prince and Princess of Wales have released a new photo of Prince Louis to mark his sixth birthday on Tuesday, the first image to be released by the family since a photo-editing scandal erupted last month.

In the photo, Louis – who is fourth in line to the British throne – can be seen grinning at the camera lying on a blanket.

The image posted to the couple's official social media accounts on Tuesday was credited to Catherine, Princess of Wales.

A royal source said the Waleses were grateful for the birthday messages they have received for Louis and the photo was taken by Kate, 42, in the last few days in Windsor.

"This is in an unprecedented time for the Wales family as the princess continues her recovery," the source said.

It has been a challenging period for the family as Kate announced she was in the early stages of chemotherapy for cancer last month.

"The family were cognisant of the fact that they have asked for privacy during the princess' recovery, however, on balance, they wanted to share the image on their social media channels as a way to thank those who have sent birthday wishes," the source continued.

The source said the photo is unedited. CNN Photo Desk has analysed the image, confirmed it is unedited and that it has not found any discrepancies or signs that the photo has been edited.

It has become something of a tradition for William and Catherine to mark their children's birthdays by sharing new images each year. Many of the past portraits have been taken by Kate, who is a keen photographer herself.

However, a handful of instances have also seen renowned professional photographers, including Mario Testino, Chris Jackson and Millie Pilkington, capture some of the contemporaneous portraits.

The Waleses have released a celebratory photo of Louis each year to mark his birthday. He was last seen in public during the family's traditional Christmas Day walk to church alongside his mom on the Sandringham estate.

The latest official photograph of the youngest member of the Wales family is likely to be heavily scrutinized as it is the first since a Mother's Day photo triggered a scandal last month.

Kensington Palace had released an official family photo, said to have been taken by Prince William, which was later found to have been tampered with. The image should have put a stop to the rabid speculation over the princess's whereabouts having retreated from the public eye after a January abdominal surgery.

However, only a few hours after its release, several international news outlets pulled the photograph from circulation citing concerns of manipulation at the source.

As eagle-eyed royal-watchers continued to pore over potential discrepancies, Kate – as she is known by many – took responsibility for the chaos that ensued.

She said that she dabbled with editing "like many amateur photographers" and "wanted to express my apologies for the confusion," in a short statement posted to X, formerly Twitter.

A second round of controversy was sparked weeks later when another official photograph was identified as being digitally manipulated.

Getty Images said on March 19 that a photograph of the late Queen Elizabeth II with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, taken by Kate and released by the palace last year had also been "digitally enhanced." A CNN analysis found signs of alteration in as many as 19 places.

The princess revealed an unspecified cancer was identified in post-operative tests on March 22. Kate said it had "been an incredibly tough couple of months" in a deeply personal video message during which she asked the public for privacy.

The family subsequently kept a low profile over the Easter school holidays, but William resumed official duties last week.

While visiting a surplus food redistribution center, the prince promised to "take care" of Kate in response to receiving get well cards for his wife and father. King Charles III has also taken a step back from public-facing duties after revealing his own cancer diagnosis earlier this year.