King Zog I has been reburied in Albania

After his death on 9 April 1961 in Paris, France, King Zog I of the Albanians, was buried at the cemetery of Thiais, just outside Paris. Only this Wednesday – upon the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Albanian state – his remains were exhumed there with full military honours (Video). His grandson Prince Leka was present, as well as about hundred other people, among them Prince Michel and Princess Maria Pia de Bourbon de Parme, Princess Chantal of France and Baron Sambucy de Sorgue, Prince Fayçal Bey of Tunesia and Princess Nesrin Toussoun. His remains were transported to Albania, and arrived at the airport of Tirana early on Friday morning (Video), after a stop in Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday. They were taken to the Zogu House in Murat Toptani street.

King Zog was reburied at the royal mausoleum in Tirana on Saturday. The mausoleum built by King Zog, that was destroyed by the Communists, was rebuilt. He found his last resting place with his wife Queen Geraldine, his son King Leka and his wife Queen Susan. Before the reburial a ceremony was being held at the Palace of Brigades, the presidential palace, in Tirana. Among the guests were Prince Leka, his fiancée Elia Zaharia, members of the royal family of Albania, the presidents of Albania (Bujar Nishani) and Kosovo (Atifete Jahjaga), and the prime minister of Albania (Sali Berisha). Also Prince Radu of Romania was invited (see his blogpost with pictures), as well as Prince Nikola II of Montenegro and Grand Duke Georgi of Russia. The president held a speech, which can be found here. About 3000 Albanians paid their respect to the King. The reburial took place with all state honours and canons were fired. In the evening a concert was being organised by the president of Albania.

Zog I was the first and only king of modern Albania, according to some sources. His predecessors however were Prince Wilhelm zu Wied, who reigned for several months in 1914, and Essad Pasha Toptani, who was declared king in 1920 but was assassined in Paris, France, only a few days later. Zog I reigned the country from 1 September 1928 to 9 April 1939. He tried to create a country with stable governmental institutions and consolidation. He and his family had to fled the country on 9 April 1939, only days after the birth of his son and heir Prince Leka. Via Greece, Turkey and France they moved to England, where they spent WW II. Afterwards they moved to Egypt. He spent the last six years of his life in France. King Zog’s wife Queen Geraldine, King Leka, Queen Susan and Prince Leka finally were allowed to return to Albania in 2002. Queen Geraldine died only a few months later. Prince Leka is the head of the Albanian royal family since the death of his father King Leka in 2011. Since 2006 he has been a political adviser, from 2006 to 2009 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from 2009 to 2012 at the Ministry of Interior, and since July 2012 he is an adviser to the President of Albania. He announced his engagement to the Albanian actress and singer Elia Zaharia in May 2010. The couple plans to get married in 2013.

Thanks to Neil Rees for the corrections

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