Royal tour: Bye bye, Baby George ... hello, Toddler George?

Story highlights

  • British royals return after a three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand
  • Prince George appeared officially only twice during trip but was a big hit Down Under
  • CNN's Max Foster says we've seen the last of Baby George

Britain's Prince George is now safely back home and tucked-up behind palace walls after taking his first tentative steps into a lifetime of public duties.

In the end, he only officially appeared twice during the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's tour of New Zealand and Australia. First, at a play date in Wellington, then at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, but we also caught glimpses of him getting on and off planes.

So what did we learn about this little monarch-in-waiting?

Well for a start, he isn't little. The other babies invited to the play date were all born within a few weeks of George and he was by far the biggest, and he's quick. "Very strong, very mobile, very happy, very active," said Peter Howe, who was one of the parents invited to the event. Another described the prince as "intrepid."

Gorgeous George

Prince George meets his animal namesake
Prince George meets his animal namesake

    JUST WATCHED

    Prince George meets his animal namesake

MUST WATCH

Prince George meets his animal namesake 01:31
Royal baby has first play date
Royal baby has first play date

    JUST WATCHED

    Royal baby has first play date

MUST WATCH

Royal baby has first play date 01:16

The world couldn't resist those chubby cheeks and social media was awash with the pictures with the word "cute." The British photographer who captured the images was James Whatling, also part of the close-up team at the zoo where George met a bilby.

"You could tell he's more playful at the bilby event," said Whatling. "He's not afraid. He's very happy to play. He's obviously at the cruising stage. He pulled himself up at the bilby enclosure, just to get a closer look and to try and stroke him. He looks strong, and I can't believe it will be very long until he starts to walk."

This is exactly the age when I remember my babies starting to transform and I could see that in George over the course of the three-week tour as well. If I compare the boy arriving in Wellington and to the one leaving the tour in Canberra, his "Mohican" hairstyle was more pronounced and he looked older. Whatling, who was next to me at both airports, said: "He's transformed from a baby to a toddler in the course of a royal tour."

Grumpy George?

Newspapers and websites have been having fun with some of George's faces. So is he really grumpy? "No," says Whatling. "He's got lovely chubby cheeks and he's full of expression. He's obviously teething and that'll make any toddler a little fractious."

Toddler George

So when the royals waved goodbye to Australia, we also waved goodbye to "Baby George." The next time we see him, it'll be the all new "Toddler George" -- and I bet he won't be hanging around for long.

READ MORE: "Kate Effect:" Australia feels force of fashion

READ MORE: Three pivotal pictures from the royal tour