How Sofia of Spain spent her 76th birthday as a retired queen

Sofia of Spain has just celebrated her 76th birthday, her first as a retired queen. But, how does the mother of newly appointed King Felipe…

Queen Sofia of Spain attends the 50th anniversary concert of FEAPS at the National Auditorium on October 31, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. She’s 76-years-old and no longer preoccupied with official events as Queen. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Sofia of Spain has just celebrated her 76th birthday, her first as a retired queen. But, how does the mother of newly appointed King Felipe VI spend her special day now?

“At first she felt liberated. At 75 years of age and almost 39 on the throne, it’s logical to feel tired from the hectic pace she had,” says a source to El Mundo newspaper, who also adds, “After the first impact, she began feeling some nostalgia and a certain sense of emptiness.”

SEE ALSO: King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia headed for divorce?

Queen Sofia is freed from official duties

However, Sofia doesn’t appear to be bored. Now that she´s free from the obligation to attend official events, she can devote her agenda to the things she really enjoys, especially charity and artistic events. For example, a few days ago she sponsored a race in support of homeless dogs, further manifesting her well-known love of animals (she is a vegetarian and lives surrounded by dogs).

The same source revealed to “El Mundo” some previously unknown details about the Queen; namely, she adores jewelry and luxury brands. But mostly, Sofia likes to feel the power she holds by being the wife of Juan Carlos I, which allows her to enjoy privileges like staying in a palace in Japan that’s never open to the public, and being able to meet any international celebrities she likes.

An old-fashioned Queen

Sofia, however, does not have a large circle of friends. This distinguishes her from her daughter-in-law, Letizia. The new Queen of Spain maintains her long-standing friendship with a group of colleagues from journalism school who, despite being active journalists, have never betrayed her. Opposite of the former Queen, she usually joins friends to have dinner at modest restaurants in central Madrid or attends alternative music festivals.

But the mother of Felipe VI is definitely an old-fashioned queen, brought up to live in exclusive aristocratic circles and very concerned about maintaining an extreme level of discretion. Her best friends are her cousin, Princess Tatiana Radziwill, and her sister Irene, a free spirit who spends a great deal of time in India working with NGOs and has her own room in the Palace of Zarzuela, where the monarchs live. With her, Sofia escapes to Athens, where she feels free and at hom.

According to El Mundo: “They walk, greet people, go shopping… Things that Sofia has never done in Madrid, because they bring everything to her at the palace. And above all, they continually laugh like little girls.”

But certainly Sofia’s most unknown hobby is esotericism. “She is fascinated by the occult, tarot, UFO mystery and all that stuff,” says the same source.

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A loving grandmother … and discreet wife

Above many things, Sofia is well known for being a passionate grandmother to her eight grandchildren. In particular, she dotes on the four children of Cristina and Inaki Urdangarin. She has always publicly shown support to her daughter and son-in-law, and has never stopped visiting them even though both are being investigated for alleged misappropriation of public funds in the so-called “Noos Case” and have become very unpopular figures in Spain.

Sofia, however, remains one of the most valued royals by citizens. She kept silent when the scandal of her husband Juan Carlos’ alleged extramarital affair with Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein came to light. Actually, she has always publicly supported her husband, though in recent times, they have visibly grown apart. She spent the summer with her grandchildren and sister in Palma de Mallorca, while Juan Carlos remained in Madrid.

SEE ALSO: Queen Letizia reveals her secrets for perfect skin

An Italian magazine even claimed the monarchs were about to divorce. The reality is that they both live their own lives and are letting the new royals Felipe and Letizia take center stage. Sofia knows very well that the couple generates great expectation for their youth and glamour and, though it certainly was a birthday to remember, she prefers to stay out of the spotlight for now.