Geraldine of Albania

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The native form of this personal name is Apponyi Géraldine. This article uses the Western name order.
Queen consort of the Albanians
Queen Geraldina
Tenure 27 April 1938 – 7 April 1939
Spouse King Zog I
Issue Leka, Crown Prince of Albania
Full name
Countess Géraldine Margit Virginia Olga Mária Apponyi de Nagy Appony
House House of Zogu
Father Gyula Apponyi de Nagy-Apponyi
Mother Gladys Virginia Steuart
Born (1915-08-06)6 August 1915
Austria-Hungary Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died 22 October 2002(2002-10-22) (aged 87)
Albania Tirana, Albania
Burial Royal Mausoleum, Albania
Religion Roman Catholic

Queen Géraldine [1] or Countess Géraldine Margit Virginia Olga Mária Apponyi de Nagy-Appony (August 6, 1915 – October 22, 2002) was the Queen Consort of King Zog I, of the Zogu dynasty of Albania. From the time of her marriage she was known as Queen Geraldine of the Albanians (Albanian: Geraldina Zog, Mbretëreshë e Shqiptarëvet).[2]

Early life[edit]

Geraldine was born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary, a daughter of Count Gyula Apponyi de Nagy Appony (1873–1924). Her mother was Gladys Virginia Steuart (1891–1947), an American, daughter of millionaire John Henry Steuart from Virginia, a diplomat who served as American Consul in Antwerp, Belgium, and his wife Mary Virginia Ramsay Harding. Through her mother Geraldine was a distant cousin to Richard Nixon and poet Robert Frost.

When Geraldine was three, the Empire of Austria-Hungary collapsed, and the Apponyi family went to live in Switzerland. In 1921 they returned to the Kingdom of Hungary which was stable under Regent Miklós Horthy.

However, when Geraldine's father died in 1924, her mother and their three children (Geraldine, now nine, Virginia, and Gyula) went to live in the resort of Menton, in the south of France. When the Countess married a French officer, her Hungarian in-laws insisted that the children be returned to Hungary for their schooling. The girls were sent to the Sacred Heart boarding school in Pressbaum, near Vienna.

Her family's fortune spent, Geraldine earned a living as a shorthand typist. She also worked in the gift shop of the Budapest National Museum, where her uncle was the director.

Royal life[edit]

Geraldine was introduced to King Zog I in December 1937, after his sister had approached Geraldine on behalf of the monarch. The King had seen the young Hungarian woman's photograph. She went to Albania and within days the couple were engaged to be married. Known as the "White Rose of Hungary", Geraldine was raised to royal status as Princess Geraldine of Albania prior to her wedding.

On 27 April 1938, in Tirana, Albania, Geraldine married the King in a ceremony witnessed by Galeazzo Ciano, envoy and son-in-law of Il Duce and Prime Minister of Italy, Benito Mussolini. She was Roman Catholic and King Zog was Muslim. They drove to their honeymoon in an open-top scarlet Mercedes-Benz 540K, a present from Adolf Hitler.

The couple had one son, H.R.H. The Crown Prince Leka Zogu (1939–2011).

Zog's rule was cut short by the Italian invasion of Albania in April 1939, and the family fled the country into exile. From April 1939, Geraldine and Zog fled Albania via Greece and Turkey and settled in France, and then in England. They lived in the Ritz Hotel, London, at Ascot and, for most of the war, at Parmoor House, Frieth, Buckinghamshire. In 1946 they went to Egypt, and then in 1952 to France. King Zog I died in Hauts-de-Seine, France, in 1961 and their son, Crown Prince Leka, was proclaimed King Leka I by the royalist government in exile. Following this, the Royal Family moved to Spain, Rhodesia and then South Africa.

Later life[edit]

After her husband's death, Geraldine preferred to be known as the Queen Mother of Albania.[3] In June 2002, Geraldine returned from South Africa to live in Albania, after the law was changed to allow her to do so. She continued to assert that her son Leka was the legitimate King of the Albanians.

Queen Geraldine died five months later at the age of 87 in a military hospital in Tirana. After being admitted for treatment for lung disease, she suffered at least three heart attacks, the last of which was fatal, on 22 October 2002.[4] She was buried by the Central House of the Army with full honors, including a funeral oration at the cathedral of Shen Pjetri, on 26 October 2002, and interred in the public cemetery of Sharra, Albania, in the "VIP plot".

Her grandson, Prince Leka of Albania, accepted a medal awarded to her posthumously by the Albanian government in recognition of her charitable efforts for the people of Albania.

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Styles of
Queen Geraldine of the Albanians
Coat of arms of the Albanian Kingdom (1928–1939).svg
Reference style Her Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
  • Countess Géraldine Apponyi de Nagy-Apponyi (Grófnő Géraldine Apponyi de Nagy-Apponyi) (1915–1938)
  • Her Royal Highness Princess Geraldine of Albania (Geraldina, Princësh e Shqiptarëvet) (10 January–27 April 1938)[5]
  • Her Majesty Queen Geraldine, The Queen of the Albanians (Geraldina Zog, Mbretëreshë e Shqiptarëvet) (1938–1961)
  • Her Majesty Queen Geraldine, The Queen Mother of the Albanians (Geraldina Zog, 'Nëna Mbretëreshë e Shqiptarëvet) (1961–2002)



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Royal Ark[dead link]
  3. ^
  4. ^ BBC News Online – Former Albanian queen dies
  5. ^ Dreamwater Free Web Space

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Geraldine of Albania
House of Nagyappony
Born: 6 August 1915 Died: 22 October 2002
Albanian royalty
Title last held by
Sophie of Schönburg-Waldenburg
as Princess of Albania
Queen consort of the Albanians
27 April 1938 – 7 April 1939
Succeeded by
Elena of Montenegro
as Queen of Italy