King Zog I of Albania
Zog I (8 October 1895–9 April 1961), born Ahmed Muhtar bey Zogolli, taking the name Ahmet Zogu in 1922, was the leader of Albania from 1922 to 1939. He first served as Albanian prime minister (1922–1924), then as president (1925–1928), and finally as King of the Albanians (1928–1939).
Born to a beylik family in Ottoman Albania, Zog was active in Albanian politics from a young age and fought on the side of Austria-Hungary during the First World War. He held various ministerial posts in the Albanian government before being driven into exile in June 1924, but returned later in the year with Yugoslav and White Russian military support and was subsequently elected prime minister. Zog was elected president in January 1925 and vested with dictatorial powers.
In September 1928, Albania was proclaimed a monarchy and he acceded to the throne as Zog I, King of the Albanians. He married Countess Geraldine Apponyi de Nagy-Appony in 1938; their only child Leka was born a year later.
Albania fell further under Italian influence during Zog's reign, and by the end of the 1930s the country had become almost fully dependent on Italy despite Zog's resistance. In April 1939 Italy invaded Albania and the country was rapidly overrun. Mussolini declared Albania an Italian protectorate under King Victor Emmanuel III, forcing Zog into exile.
Zog spent the rest of his life in France and died in April 1961 at the age of 65. His remains were buried at the Thiais Cemetery near Paris, before being transferred to the royal mausoleum in Tirana in 2012. (This temporary text has been reproduced from this article and will be replaced with our own text soon.)
Leka I (1939-2011 )
The only son of King Zog I and Queen Geraldine, Leka I was the Crown Prince of Albania under the name of Crown Prince Skander. Upon the death of his father King Zog in 1961, the Albanian National Assembly-in-Exile proclaimed him as King Leka I of the Albanians. Leka I was Head of the House of Zogu, and claimant to the Albanian throne, from 1961 until his death in 2011. In 1975, he married Australian Susan Barbara Cullen-Ward (1941-2004) thereafter known as Susan of Albania. The couple lived in Spain, Rhodesia, and South Africa. Leka II is their only surviving child.
Leka II (b. 1982)
Crown Prince Leka II of Albania (born 26 March 1982) is the current Head of the House of Zogu and the sole claimant to the Kingdom of Albania's throne. He married actress Elia Zaharia in 2016. Prince Leka lives in Tirana and actively asserts his rights to the Albanian Crown. The website of the Royal Court of Albania states that "the Crown Prince and Crown Princess are custodians of the Monarchy’s legacy, whilst being diplomatically active and maintaining a balanced position in Albanian National politics as a symbol of Albanian unity." (Image © Royal Court of Albania)
Princess Geraldine (b. 2020)
Leka II and his wife Elia Zogu had a daughter named Geraldine on 22 October 2020. Named after her great-grandmother, the former Queen, she was born in Tirana, Albania.(Image © Royal Court of Albania)
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Albania (1928-39). While Prince Wilhelm I had a princely crown designed for his achievement, King Zog I opted to represent the iconic circa 1460 goat's head helmet of national Albanian hero Skanderbeg as his royal crown.
The Albanian Royal Guard in 1928. Image subsequently colorized.
Monument to King Zog I in Tirana, Albania. Erected in 2012 to commemorate the centenary of Albanian independence, the inauguration was attended by Leka II as well as by the Prime Minister and other dignitaries. Credit: Photo © Andis Rado, 2017.
Objects in the Collection
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