Today, 8 October 2016, Prince Leka of Albania (or King Leka II of Albania as he is known by royalists) will marry his longtime fiancee Elia Zaharia. This is only the second-ever royal wedding in Albania, the first being the wedding of his grandfather King Zog I and Countess Géraldine Apponyi de Nagy-Appony. Countess Géraldine was born on 6 August 1915 as the daughter of Count Gyula Apponyi de Nagy Appony and Gladys Virginia Steuart. She was introduced to King Zog in December 1937, and they were engaged within days.
The wedding between King Zog and Géraldine took place on 27 April 1938 in Albania’s capital of Tirana. She had been elevated to the title of Princess Geraldine of Albania on 10 January 1938. The ceremony was witnessed by Galeazzo Ciano (son-in-law of Benito Mussolini). She wore a white satin wedding dress from Chanel. She had six bridesmaids and wore a diadem of orange blossom in her hair. She carried a bouquet of lilies, and her train was borne by four army officers. The marriage was a civil ceremony only as the groom was a Muslim, and the bride was a Roman Catholic.
The ceremony lasted just six and a half minutes. There was a salute of 101 guns to announced to the crowds that the marriage ceremony was now complete. The ceremony was followed by a breakfast in the royal palace, which was only attended by the two family and the most honoured wedding guests. The couple then drove along the streets of Tirana in an open car, a wedding gift from Adolf Hitler, to the cheers of the crowds.
They later set off in the same car to the royal villa at Durrës, where they would spend the next eight weeks.
Their fairytale was cut short when the Italian invasion of Albania ended King Zog’s rule just days after the birth of their first child. 1