The Wedding of King Zog I of Albania and Countess Geraldine Apponyi de Nagy-Appony, daughter of Hungarian Count Gyula and American Countess Gladys Apponyi de Nagy-Appony, in a Civil Ceremony at the Royal Palace of Tirana on this day in 1938. The couple had one son, Prince Leka, and days later were forced to flee after the Italian Invasion of Albania. The family spent the next few decades in England, Egypt, Spain, Rhodesia, South Africa, and France, where King Zog died in 1961. In 2002, Queen Geraldine was finally allowed to return to Albania, where she died later that year, and was buried with full honours. An account of the Wedding:
On the morning of the wedding Princess Geraldine woke at six o’clock despite the fact that she had not gone to bed until late and been given a sedative to make her sleep. Soon everyone was awake at the villa and emotions ran high as – typically Hungarian – first the grandmother, and then her mother and aunts, began to cry.
Geraldine was astonishingly calm as she put on the pearl and diamanté embroidered wedding dress from Worth that had been selected for her. Again she had not been consulted, but the King’s taste was so sensitive that its elegant lines flowed over her willowy figure.
It was Madame Girault’s romantic wish that she place the wedding veil on her daughter’s head and then from a hidden box she disclosed the white gold chain with diamond cross that Geraldine had admired with the King. It was another touch of finesse that made this man so different. At the time it was reported that the bride was taller than the King, but this was merely the height of her coronet of orange blossom, an insignificant fact that still piques her to this day.
As the wedding was to be a civil one only, it was held in the flower-decked hall of the palace. Followed by her six bridesmaids, all in white, Princess Geraldine entered the room to join the King who looked most impressive in his white uniform, his rows of decorations and his sabre. As Princess Geraldine took his arm the King placed on the fourth finger of her right hand a huge blue fourteen carat solitaire diamond ring to match the blue white one he had given her as an engagement ring.
The King’s witnesses were Count Ciano and Zog’s Turkish brother-in-law, Prince Abid, the Albanian Minister to France. Representing the Queen was Count Charles Apponyi, her guardian and uncle, and Baron Frederick Vilany, Hungarian Minister to Italy. Her train was carried by the King’s nephew, Tati. Helqmet Delvina, the white-bearded president of the two Houses of Parliament united the couple by reading from the civil code…
The service lasted three minutes. The king then placed her trembling hand on his arm and led his bride to the balcony to greet the thousands milling in Skanderbeg Square. Again and again they returned to wave to the people who were overjoyed to see their monarch so relaxed and fulfilled. It seemed that a while new era of prosperity was dawning for this nation which had known only turbulence in the past. After this the King led her into the wedding reception, followed by her line of fluttering bridesmaids, the close family and the Court behind. They moved from salon to salon shaking hands and greeting guests. All the Queen remembers today of this part of her wedding was a sea of faces, so many loving faces, and the strange dream-like feeling of receiving reverences from her family…
Queen Geraldine cut the three metre wide wedding cake with the King’s sabre and her beloved brother Gyula, just fourteen years of age, made a speech. With the permission of the King, the Apponyi family had arranged to bring to Tirana one of the most famous gypsy orchestras from Budapest to play at the reception. They played Geraldine’s favourite tunes until, to the horror of the King, his bride began to cry.”
A variety of Royal and Noble Guests were in attendance, including:
From Hungary, the Duke and Counts Esterházy and Festetich, the Apponyis, Károlyis, Szapárys, Berchtolds, and Edelsheim, the baronial Inkeys and Urbáns. From other countries the Princesses Borghese and Radziwill, the Duke of Bergamo, the Counts Seeherr-Thoss and Trautenberg, and a great many representatives of Central European aristocracy.”