Infanta Sofia, the youngest daughter of King Felipe and Queen Letizia, celebrated her sixteenth birthday on Saturday, April 29, a milestone that will mark the beginning of a series of significant changes in her life.
Despite having been in the background as a faithful squire to her older sister, Leonor, Princess of Asturias, Sofia has been the subject of great curiosity in each of her public appearances, and her looks and gestures have been scrutinized in detail.
However, her sister Leonor is the heir to the throne, which means Sofia will continue to support her sister in the shadows. With the coming months marked by several major changes in the life of the Spanish royal family, this will be more evident than ever.
Infanta Sofia’s 16th birthday: preparing to leave Zarzuela to study in Wales
One of the biggest challenges Sofia will face will be her departure to Wales to continue her studies. Once she finishes her Compulsory Secondary Education at Santa Maria de los Rosales School, in August she will join students of different nationalities at the demanding boarding school UWC Atlantic College in Wales.
This new chapter in Sofia’s life will be especially significant, as for the first time she will have to live away from her parents, away from home, and the protocol and institutional demands of her residence in Zarzuela.
Moreover, with her older sister returning from Wales after two years, Sofia faces the task of following her path and living an unforgettable experience. But it will also mean that she will spend two more years away from Leonor, this time with roles reversed, as she will be the one leaving. These changes will also affect Sofia in other ways, as Princess Leonor will begin her military training, increase her public appearances and turn 18 in October.
Although Sofia could become the big absentee from some of Leonor’s important events, such as the swearing-in of the Constitution, she could also be present at some events to support her sister. This challenge will force her to combine her studies in Wales with her role in the monarchy, something that her sister Leonor has managed to do on occasional occasions in the last two years.
Comparisons with other young European royals of her generation have become increasingly frequent in the press, and Sofia will have to face these comparisons increasingly in the future.
Despite the challenges ahead, Infanta Sofia is expected to demonstrate her personality and skills in the coming months as she continues to support her sister and face the challenges of real life on the road to adulthood.