Prince Wilhelm I of Albania

Prince Wilhelm of Wied (German: Wilhelm Friedrich Heinrich Prinz zu Wied, 26 March 1876 – 18 April 1945), reigned briefly as sovereign of the Principality of Albania as Vilhelm I from 7 March to 3 September 1914, when he left for exile. Outside the country and in diplomatic correspondence, he was styled Sovereign Prince, but in Albania, he was referred to as mbret, or king.

The European Great Powers selected William, a member of the German princely house of Wied, to rule over the newly independent Albania. The offer of the Albanian throne was first made to him in the spring of 1913 but he turned it down. On 7 February 1914, William let the Great Powers know that he would accept the throne, thereby becoming By the grace of the powers and the will of the people the Prince (Mbret) of Albania. One month later, he arrived in Durrës.

His brief reign proved turbulent. Immediately following his arrival revolts of Muslims broke out in central Albania against foreign domination that was not Turkish. Greece encouraged the formation of a separatist provisional government in North Epirus. William's position was also undermined by Essad Pasha, who accepted money from Italy to finance a revolt and to stage a coup against William. The plot was exposed, Pasha was arrested on 19 May 1914.

The outbreak of World War I presented more problems for Prince William as Austria-Hungary demanded that he send Albanian soldiers. When he refused, citing the neutrality of Albania, the remuneration that he had been receiving was cut off. Prince William left the country on 3 September 1914.

Armorial achievement of Prince Wilhelm I of Albania designed by Emil Doepler in February 1914. The princely crown, with its high white cap, is a novel design based on traditional Albanian men's headwear. Topping the crown is the Star of Skanderbeg, rather than the usual cross, to ensure religious neutrality.

Prince Wilhelm I and his wife, Princess Sophie of Schönburg-Waldenburg arrive in Durrës, Albania, on 03 July 1914. Six months later, he would be back in Germany without a throne. Image subsequently colorized. Credit: Wikipedia.

The Royal Palace of Durrës was the official residence of Prince Wilhelm and Princess Sophie. Formerly the residence of the Ottoman administrator, it was bombed in 1918 and further ruined in a 1926 earthquake. Image: Website of the Prime Minister of Albania via Wikipedia.

Albanians in Durrës (Durazzo) 1860s. Image credit: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022.

Prince Wilhelm I greets the crowds during a visit to the Mosque of Durazzo. Although a Protestant Christian, Wilhelm was mindful of Albania's religious diversity.

Reigned as

  • Outside of Albania: Prince William of Wied, Prince of Albania (German: Wilhelm Friedrich Heinrich; Albanian: Princ Vidi or Princ Vilhelm Vidi)
  • Within Albania: King (Mbret) of Albania. Also known as Skanderbeg II.


07 March 1914 — 03 September 1914


21 February 1914


Objects in our Collection

Principality of Albania Prince Wilheld Wied accession medal

Accession Medal, 1914

Medal commemorating the arrival of the recently-selected King (Mbret) of Albania Wilhelm I (Wilhelm Wied-Neuwied) at the port of Durres on 07 March 1914.

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