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
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
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 Apponyi (by birth)
House of Zogu (by marriage)
Father Gyula Apponyi de Nagy-Apponyi
Mother Gladys Virginia Steuart
Religion Roman Catholic

Géraldine Margit Virginia Olga Mária Apponyi de Nagy-Appony (6 August 1915 – 22 October 2002) was the Queen consort of King Zog I of Albania.

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 she was a distant cousin to Richard Nixon,[1] with deep ancestral roots in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, that included Edmund Rice as an ancestor.[2]

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, who had seen a photograph of her. She visited 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. Geraldine wore a new diamond tiara, specially commissioned from Osterreicher jewellers, featuring the motifs of the white rose for the bride, and the heraldic ram for the groom.[3] 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".[4] 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 Albania.

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.[5] 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, Leka, Crown Prince 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 (10 January–27 April 1938).[citation needed]
  • Her Majesty Queen Geraldine, The Queen of the Albanians (1938–1961).[citation needed]
  • Her Majesty Queen Geraldine, The Queen Mother of the Albanians (1961–2002).[citation needed]



  1. ^ The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Ltd. 2002. p. 50. 
  2. ^ Gary Boyd Roberts (Fall 1999). "Notable Kin of Edmund Rice" (PDF). Edmund Rice (1638) Association Newsletter Vol. 73 no. 4 p.3. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "Queen Geraldine's Diamond Tiara". Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor blog. 
  4. ^ (PDF).  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ BBC News Online – Former Albanian queen dies

Further reading[edit]

  • Dedet, Joséphine Géraldine, reine des Albanais. Paris: Criterion, 1997 ISBN 2-7413-0148-4 and Paris : Belfond, 2012, ISBN 978-2-7144-5090-6 second edition, biography enriched by the Queen's testimony, by her personal archives and by a huge correspondence with the author, who has benefited of many unpublished sources.
  • Dedet, Joséphine, Géraldine, Egy Magyar No Albania Tronjan, Budapest : Europa, 2015, ISBN 978-963-405-202-9, best-seller in Hungary, translation of Géraldine, reine des Albanais.
  • Pearson, O. S. Albania and King Zog, I.B. Tauris. 2005 (ISBN 1-84511-013-7).
  • Tomes, Jason King Zog, Self-Made Monarch of Albania, Stroud: Sutton, 2003 ISBN 0-7509-3077-2
  • Rees, Neil. A Royal Exile: King Zog & Queen Geraldine of Albania including their wartime exile in the Thames Valley and Chilterns, 2010 ISBN 978-0-9550883-1-5
  • The Economist, 7 November 2002 – Queen Geraldine of Albania.
  • The Independent, 24 October 2004, Obituary.
  • Patrice Najbor, Histoire de l'Albanie et de sa maison royale (5 volumes), JePublie, Paris, 2008, (ISBN 978-2-9532382-0-4).
  • Patrice Najbor, La dynastie des Zogu, Textes & Prétextes, Paris, 2002

External links[edit]

Geraldine of Albania
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