6 August 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Queen Geraldine of Albania. She was born in Budapest (Austria-Hungary) in 1915. She was the daughter of Gladys Virginia Steuart and Hungarian Count Gyula Apponyi de Nagy Appony. After fleeing from Austria-Hungary as the empire collapsed the family lived in Switzerland. When her father died in 1914, they moved to the south of France and her mother remarried to a French officer. Her father’s relatives then requested that Geraldine and her two siblings move back to Hungary for their education. Geraldine and her sister were sent to a boarding school near Vienna.
As most of the family’s fortune disappeared with the empire, Geraldine worked as a typist and in the gift shop of the Budapest National Museum. She was introduced to King Zog I in December 1937. Within a few days, the couple was engaged. She was raised to a royal status in January 1938 prior to her wedding and was then known as Princess Geraldine of Albania. They married on 27 April 1938. Their only son Crown Prince Leka Zogu was born on 5 April 1939.
The Italian invasion of Albania in April 1939 cut the happiness of the birth of their son short, and the new family was forced to flee into exile. They moved around a lot, from England to France, Egypt, Spain, Rhodesia and South Africa. Her husband died in France in 1961, and their son was proclaimed King Leka I.
In 2002 the family was finally allowed to live in Albania again. Geraldine moved there in June 2002 from South Africa, but she would die just five months later. She was interred in the Royal Mausoleum in Tirana.
Today her grandson, Prince Leka (or Leka II) paid tribute to his grandmother by placing flowers on her grave together with his fiancé Elia. There will also be a mass later this evening, and a memorial is taking place in Castle Apponyi in Slovakia.
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