Queen Letizia Loves Zumba and 24 Other Little-Known Facts About the Royal

She's the first commoner to become queen of Spain, and over the 12 years she's been part of the royal family, she has been through ups (the birth of the heir to the throne of Spain) and downs (personal tragedy, including the loss of her grandmother). As a journalist she saw war and terrorism firsthand, and as a royal she has finally won the approval of her people, juggling motherhood, philanthropic work, and redefining a monarchy that was only reinstated 38 years ago. It's been quite a journey, and there is certainly more to Queen Letizia than meets the eye. Scroll ahead for 25 little-known facts about her.

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  • In 1998 when she was 26 she married teacher Alfonso Guerrero, which caused controversy when she got engaged to Prince Felipe. However, because her first marriage was a civil ceremony, it didn't require an annulment and she was therefore permitted to have a Roman Catholic wedding to her prince.
  • She has had four names: Miss Doña Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, Mrs. Doña Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano de Guerrero, Her Royal Highness The Princess of Asturias and Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain.
  • Before she married into the royal family, she was an accomplished journalist, following her father into the profession, and gaining a masters in broadcast journalism in Madrid.
  • She started out her career on daily newspaper La Nueva España before moving into TV, where she progressed from Bloomberg to CNN+, and then the national network Television Española, where she became the anchor on its flagship show.
  • She shares her birthday (Sept. 15) with Prince Harry, although she is 12 years older.
  • She is the granddaughter of a taxi driver and had a close relationship with her grandparents — living with them in Madrid when she was studying and vacationing with them in Alicante when they retired there.
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  • She gave birth to Princess Leonor in 2005 and Infanta Sofía in 2007.
  • She and Prince Felipe met briefly at a dinner party in 2001, but didn't start dating until the following year when they met again at the site of an oil spill. Letizia was covering the disaster, and Felipe was offering support to the local community.
  • In 2008, she underwent surgery on her nose. The palace stated the operation was to correct a respiratory problem.
  • She's a strict mother — no TV, tablet or internet from Monday to Friday, she recently revealed at one of her engagements.
  • She flew to Iraq to cover the war and New York to report on 9/11, and won many journalistic prizes including Madrid Press Association's Larra Award for most accomplished journalist under 30.
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  • The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official palace of the monarchy, but it is used only for official and state functions. Queen Letizia and the royal family lives in the Prince's Pavilion.
  • She and Prince Felipe vacation every year in Marivent Palace in Mallorca. In the '80s, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry used to vacation there with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía every Summer.
  • She uses Biotulin the "natural botox," which the Duchess of Cambridge recently recommended to Michelle Obama.
  • Her favorite designers include Hugo Boss and Carolina Herrera. She also shops in high street stores Zara and Mango. For accessories, she favors Magrit shoes and TOUS jewelry.
  • She sticks to a healthy diet, staying away from sugar and fatty meats, and drinks three liters of water a day.
Getty | Michel Porro

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  • She and her husband came to power because her father-in-law King Juan Carlos fell from favor in the eyes of the Spanish people. One of the factors was the revelation that King Juan Carlos had taken a wildly expensive elephant-hunting trip with a female companion when the country was going through a recession, and it only came to light when he broke a hip while he was away.
  • In 1996, at the age of 24 she lived in Mexico and became a muse to the Cuban artist Waldo Saavedra, who painted her, used her image to illustrate his poetry, and put her on his album cover. He revealed recently that he had been in love with her, but she dated his bandmate Fernando Olvera.
  • Her younger sister, Erika, sadly committed suicide at the age of 31 in 2007, when Letizia was seven months pregnant with Sofía.
  • She's a dancing queen — she stays in shape with Zumba workouts and running.
  • She focuses her philanthropic work on education, innovation, rare diseases, and nutrition.