Geraldine (1916—)

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Geraldine (1916—)

Hungarian-American who was queen-consort of Albania. Name variations: Geraldine de Nagy-Appony. Born Geraldine de Nagy-Appony in 1916; daughter of Cyula Apponyi, count de Nagy-Appony; married Ahmed Bey Zogu, also known as Scanderbeg III or Zog I or Zogu I (Ahmed), king of Albania (r. 1928–39), in 1938 (died 1961); children: son Leka I (b. April 17, 1939); possibly others.

Ahmed Bey Zogu was one of Albania's largest landowners. In January 1925, he was elected president of the Republic, superseding the Council of Regency that had been established in 1921. By March, he was tailoring the constitution to enhance his power. On December 1, 1928, he declared himself King Zog I of Albania, using his powers for reform. But poverty in Albania was widespread.

In 1938, when he married 22-year-old Geraldine, an Hungarian-American, his country was in close collaboration with Benito Mussolini's Italy. So powerful was Italy's control that Albania became its vassal state. On April 19, 1939, two days after Geraldine gave birth to the Albanian heir, planes droned over the capital city of Tirana, dropping leaflets proclaiming that friendly Italian troops were about to enter the country to "reestablish order, peace, and justice." As Mussolini invaded Albania, Zog put his still-bedridden wife and newborn child into an ambulance and sent them down 160 miles of rough road to neighboring Greece. On arrival, Geraldine released an appeal to the world: "I left my husband leading his troops—his poor insignificant little Army—into battle. What could Albania do against such armed might as that which ground down on us?" One day later, Zog, along with 115 court followers and 10 cases of valuables, joined her in Greece; then the family spent their years in exile in Egypt. At the end of World War II, the monarchy was not restored, and Queen Geraldine and King Zog were officially deposed in 1946. Zog's sister, Princess Sania , married a diplomat and lived in Paris. His two other sisters were Majida and Muzayaj .