Leka I, Crown Prince of Albania
|Crown Prince Leka I|
|Crown Prince of Albania|
|Head of the House of Zogu|
|Period||9 April 1961 – 30 November 2011|
|Predecessor||King Zog I|
|Successor||Crown Prince Leka II|
5 April 1939|
Royal Palace of Tirana, Tirana, Tirana County, Kingdom of Albania
|Died||30 November 2011
Mother Teresa Hospital, Tirana, Tirana County, Republic of Albania
|Burial||Mausoleum of the Albanian Royal Family, Tirana, Albania|
(m. 1975; d. 2004)
|Issue||Crown Prince Leka II of Albania|
|Father||King Zog I of Albania|
|Mother||Countess Géraldine Apponyi de Nagyappony|
Leka, Crown Prince of Albania (also known as King Leka I; 5 April 1939 – 30 November 2011), was the only son of King Zog I of the Albanians and his queen consort, born Countess Géraldine Apponyi de Nagyappony. He was called Crown Prince Skander at birth. Leka was pretender to the Albanian throne and was referred to as King Leka I by Albanian monarchists and some members of the media.
Family and early life
King Zog I of the Albanians was forced into exile only two days after the birth of Crown Prince Leka due to the Italian invasion of Albania. Shortly after, he was replaced on the throne of Albania by Victor Emmanuel III of Italy — an action the King of Italy would later plead personal forgiveness for.
Crown Prince Leka began life in exile in various countries. After travelling across Europe, the Royal Family settled in England, first at the Ritz Hotel in London, then moving for a very short period in 1941 to South Ascot, near Ascot in Berkshire, and then in 1941 to Parmoor House, Parmoor, near Frieth in Buckinghamshire.
Through his mother, Leka has some attested distant mediaeval roots in Albania, whereas his father's much closer Albanian ancestry cannot be historically attested, except by oral history as far as the Middle Ages. The Zogu family were one of the main Principalities that fought beside the Albanian hero Skanderbeg against the invading Turks, and Mamica Kastriot (Skanderbeg's sister) reputedly married into the Toptani family, which King Zog's mother came from.
Leka was educated at Parmoor House, and then at English schools in Egypt and at Aiglon College, Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland. Fluent in many languages he also studied economics at the Sorbonne and passed out of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, England. Following this he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the British Army. He had since made his money with successful business deals in commodities.
Leka became heir apparent of the abolished throne on 5 April 1957. On the death of King Zog in 1961, Leka was proclaimed King of the Albanians by a convened Albanian National Assembly-in-Exile, in a function room at the Hotel Bristol, Paris.
Marriage and exile
In 1975, Leka married Australian citizen and former teacher Susan Cullen-Ward in Biarritz. They were married in a civil ceremony in the Hôtel de Ville, Biarritz. The wedding reception, at a five-star Toledo Roadhouse, was attended by members of other exiled royal families, loyal Albanians and friends, who toasted "Long live the King".
The couple returned to Madrid, where they were befriended by King Juan Carlos and continued to enjoy the attentions of Albanians. The couple married religiously in Madrid. When it was discovered that Leka not only retained some Thai bodyguards, but had what was described as an arms cache in their home, the Spanish Government asked him to leave. That Leka had some reason for his fears was proved when his plane arrived at Gabon for refueling, to find it was being surrounded by local troops, who were said to have been hired to capture him by the Albanian government. He saw them off by appearing at the plane's door with a bazooka in his hand. The couple went on to Rhodesia but, after Robert Mugabe took power, they settled in a large compound near Johannesburg where they were given diplomatic status by the South African Government.
Leka spent many years exiled in Bryanston, South Africa, where his son, Prince Leka Anwar Zog Reza Baudouin Msiziwe, was born. He eventually returned to Albania, settling in Tirana, where his wife, Crown Princess Susan, died on 17 July 2004.
Return to Albania
In 1993 he entered Albania for the first time (since being exiled aged a few days old in 1939), doing so under a passport issued by his own Royal Court-in-exile. In this passport, which the Albanian government had refused to recognise previously, Leka listed his profession as "King". Leka was greeted by a crowd of approximately 500 supporters on his arrival at the airport. He stated at this time that he would renounce this passport and accept the status of a normal citizen if a referendum on the monarchy failed.
During the 1997 rebellion in Albania, Leka returned again, this time being greeted by 2,000 supporters. A referendum was held in Albania concerning a restoration of the monarchy. After a recount it was announced that the restoration was rejected by approximately two-thirds of those voting. The King questioned the independence of the election. Police intervened, gunfire broke out, one person was killed, and Leka fled. In 2011, Sali Berisha who was President at the time admitted "By 2003, the Albanian Parliament passed the law that recognized the attributes of the Royal Family and it was a right decision. Also I remind you that even the referendum was held in the context of flames of the communist rebellion and therefore cannot be considered a closed matter. The Stalinist principle of: ‘you vote, but I count the votes’ was applied in that referendum. But, the fact of the matter is the Albanians voted massively for their King, but the referendum failed to meet quotas as it was manipulated."
When asked if he intended to leave Albania he replied: "Why? It is my country." After leaving Albania of his own accord he was tried and sentenced to three years imprisonment for sedition, in absentia; this conviction was pardoned in March 2002, when 72 members of Parliament asked the royal family to return.
Leka was backed by the Party of Right and Legality (PLL). PLL is a right wing monarchist party and a marginal factor in Albanian politics. It formed a coalition with other parties in Albania. Leka, however, did not vote, stating that
|“||I am above all political parties, even my own.||”|
Leka was head of the Movement for National Development. He argued that he was a fighter for a Greater Albania in terms of ethnicity and that his restoration as king would make possible this goal. However, in February 2006, he announced he would be withdrawing from political and public life.
He died on 30 November 2011 in Mother Teresa Hospital, Tirana. He was buried next to his wife’s and mother’s grave at the public Sharra cemetery in a Tirana suburb. Later he was buried in the royal mausoleum.
National dynastic honours
- House of Zogu: Sovereign Knight with Collar of the Royal Order of Albania
- House of Zogu: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Fidelity, Special Class
- House of Zogu: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Skanderbeg, Grand Star
- House of Zogu: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Bravery
- Italian Royal Family: Knight Grand Cordon of the Royal Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
- Russian Imperial Family: Knight Grand Cordon of the Imperial Order of St. Vladimir
- Georgian Royal Family: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Royal Order of the Eagle of Georgia
|Ancestors of Leka I, Crown Prince of Albania|
- "Queen Susan of the Albanians (obituary)". Daily Telegraph. 2004-07-21. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- Albania: the House of Zogu, Royal Ark
- Geraldine Apponyi, a queen for 354 days (obituary), The Economist, 7 November 2002
- Royal Ark
- "Obituaries: Leka I Zogu". Daily Telegraph.
- New Hope for The Old Regime, Time, 27 November 2000.
- "Albania: two thousand attend Tirana protest rally in support of monarchy". ATA. 2 July 1997. Retrieved 31 July 2008.
- Ex-king's son returns to Albania, BBC News Online, 28 June 2002.
-  Albanian Government Council of Ministers webpage November 2011
- "Commentary on Home Office Republic of Albania Country Report of April 2004" (PDF). (362 KB), UK Advisory Panel on Country Information, Third Meeting: 7 September 2004.
- Mudde, Cas (2000). "Extreme-right Parties in Eastern Europe". Patterns of Prejudice. 34 (1): 5–27. doi:10.1080/00313220008559132.
- Albania votes: an emerging democracy, emerges, National Review, 8 August 2005.
- Leka: Enough with communist mentality, Gazeta SOT Online, 30 April 2005
- LLAZAR SEMINI Associated Press. "Albania's Self-Styled King Leka Dies at 72". ABC News. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
- The Washington Post
- Crown Prince Leka wearing his national orders
- gettyimages.co.uk, Crown Prince Leka wearing the sash, medal and ribbon bars at the Russian Imperial wedding
- Wearing the Grand Cross at his pre-wedding party
- Dedet, Joséphine "Géraldine, reine des Albanais". Paris: Belfond, 2016, published at the occasion of Prince Leka's wedding in Tirana, on October 8th, 2016 (Leka being Geraldine's grand-son) ; former editions: Criterion, 1997 ISBN 2-7413-0148-4 and Belfond, 2012, ISBN 978-2-7144-5090-6. 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".
- Najbor, Patrice. "Histoire de l'Albanie et de sa Maison Royale" (5 volumes) - JePublie - Paris - 2008
- 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)
- Court of King Zog Research Society
- Official website of the Albanian Royal Court
- Maison Royale d'Albanie (French)
- Histoire de l'Albanie et de sa Maison Royale 1443-2007
- Leka in military uniform with his wife
Leka I, Crown Prince of AlbaniaBorn: 5 April 1939 Died: 30 November 2011
|Titles in pretence|
|— TITULAR —
King of the Albanians
9 April 1961 – 30 November 2011
Reason for succession failure:
Monarchy abolished in 1946
Leka, Crown Prince of Albania