Susan Cullen-Ward was born on 28 January 1941 in Sydney as the daughter of Alan Robert Cullen-Ward and his wife, Phyllis Dorothea Murray-Prior. Susan grew up on the New South Wales sheep station that her father owned and attended the Technical College in Sydney.
In 1965, she married Richard William, but they were divorced without having had children in 1970. Susan met Crown Prince Leka I of Albania at a dinner party in Sydney. They became close friends and eventually fell in love. Her future mother-in-law began to groom Susan as her successor and began teaching her the Albanian language and Albanian history. Susan and Leka were married in a civil ceremony in Biarritz in 1975, and they had a religious blessing in Madrid. Queen Elizabeth sent a telegram of congratulations to the newlyweds.
Upon their return to Madrid, Susan told the press, “I don’t feel like a queen. I feel a happy bride. Nothing has changed, except I have the responsibility of helping His Majesty back onto the throne of his country.”
They overstayed their welcome in Madrid, and they settled in Rhodesia and then Johannesburg, where they were given diplomatic status by the apartheid regime. Their only child, Leka, Crown Prince of Albania, was born in Johannesburg in 1982. The Australian government refused to recognise her as Queen, and she was eventually issued a document describing her as “Susan-Cullen-Ward, known as Queen Susan.” Susan and Leka both enjoyed smoking, and he affectionately called her “Roo.”
She founded a cultural foundation in the United States called, “The Queen Susan Cultural Foundation”, which assists Albanians with medical and educational needs. She visited hospitals all around the world.
Susan was diagnosed with lung cancer, and on 17 June 2004, she passed away after suffering from heart failure. She was still only 63 years old. She was laid to rest beside her mother-in-law, Queen Geraldine.
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