Leka, Crown Prince of Albania (born 1939)

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.[1]

Leka Zogu
Crown Prince of Albania
Head of the House of Zogu
Period9 April 1961 – 30 November 2011
PredecessorKing Zog I
SuccessorLeka II
Born(1939-04-05)5 April 1939
Royal Palace of Tirana, Tirana, Kingdom of Albania
Died30 November 2011(2011-11-30) (aged 72)
Mother Teresa Hospital, Tirana, Albania
Susan Cullen-Ward
(m. 1975; died 2004)
IssueLeka II
Full name
Leka Skënder Zogu
FatherZog I of Albania
MotherCountess Géraldine Apponyi de Nagyappony
ReligionSunni Islam

Family and early lifeEdit

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.

After the war, Zog, Queen Geraldine and Leka moved temporarily to Egypt, where they lived at the behest of King Farouk I.

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.[2] 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.[3]

Marriage and exileEdit

In 1975, Leka married Australian citizen and former teacher Susan Cullen-Ward.[4] 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".[1]

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.[5] 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 AlbaniaEdit

In 1993 Leka was permitted to enter 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 royal passport, which the Albanian government had previously refused to recognise, Leka listed his profession as "King".[6]

During the 1997 rebellion in Albania, Leka returned again, this time being greeted by 2,000 supporters.[7] 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.[8] 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."[9]

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.[1][10]

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.[11] It formed a coalition with other parties in Albania. Leka, however, did not vote, stating that

Leka was head of the Movement for National Development.[13] 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.[11] However, in February 2006, he announced he would be withdrawing from political and public life.[13]


He died on 30 November 2011 in Mother Teresa Hospital, Tirana.[14] 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.[15]

Dynastic honoursEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Queen Susan of the Albanians (obituary)". Daily Telegraph. 2004-07-21. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
  2. ^ Albania: the House of Zogu, Royal Ark
  3. ^ "Queen Geraldine of Albania: Geraldine Apponyi, a queen for 354 days, died on October 22nd, aged 87". Obituary. The Economist. 7 November 2002. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  4. ^ Royal Ark
  5. ^ "Obituaries: Leka I Zogu". Daily Telegraph.
  6. ^ New Hope for The Old Regime, Time, 27 November 2000.
  7. ^ "Albania: two thousand attend Tirana protest rally in support of monarchy". ATA. 2 July 1997. Retrieved 31 July 2008.
  8. ^ Ex-king's son returns to Albania, BBC News Online, 28 June 2002.
  9. ^ [1][permanent dead link] Albanian Government Council of Ministers webpage November 2011
  10. ^ "Commentary on Home Office Republic of Albania Country Report of April 2004" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-28. (362 KB), UK Advisory Panel on Country Information, Third Meeting: 7 September 2004.
  11. ^ a b Mudde, Cas (2000). "Extreme-right Parties in Eastern Europe". Patterns of Prejudice. 34 (1): 5–27. doi:10.1080/00313220008559132.
  12. ^ Albania votes: an emerging democracy, emerges Archived 2008-01-04 at the Wayback Machine, National Review, 8 August 2005.
  13. ^ a b Leka: Enough with communist mentality, Gazeta SOT Online, 30 April 2005
  14. ^ LLAZAR SEMINI Associated Press. "Albania's Self-Styled King Leka Dies at 72". ABC News. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  15. ^ The Washington Post
  16. ^ a b c Crown Prince Leka wearing his national orders
  17. ^ a b c d e f gettyimages.co.uk, Crown Prince Leka wearing the sash, medal and ribbon bars at the Russian Imperial wedding
  18. ^ Wearing the Grand Cross at his pre-wedding party
  19. ^ https://www.flickr.com/photos/65595512@N00/4463782725/
  20. ^ http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/prince-leka-of-albania-son-of-the-king-zog-i-of-albania-news-photo/146478305
  21. ^ http://i022.radikal.ru/0909/d9/5992db040178.jpg
  • Dedet, Joséphine "Géraldine, reine des Albanais". Paris: Belfond, 2016, published at the occasion of Prince Leka's wedding in Tirana, on October 8, 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)

External linksEdit

Leka, Crown Prince of Albania (born 1939)
Born: 5 April 1939 Died: 30 November 2011
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
King Zog
King of the Albanians
9 April 1961 – 30 November 2011
Reason for succession failure:
Monarchy abolished in 1946
Succeeded by
Leka, Crown Prince of Albania