Do You Know the Albanian Royal Family (And Their Current Drama)?

By: Alec Donaldson | Published: Feb 25, 2024

The heads of the Albanian monarchy, Crown Prince Leka II and Crown Princess Elia, announced in January they plan to divorce.

The couple, who have been married since 2016, say they will fully commit to being the best parents they can for their sole daughter, Princess Geraldine. 

The Situation Surrounding the Albanian Monarchy

Albania’s royal family is not like others around the world in that there are hereditary pretenders to the throne.

King Zog I of Albania pictured alongside his ministers

Source: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

The nation was under Ottoman rule for centuries until it ended in 1912. After its downfall, the nation became a monarchy once again, ruled over by King Zog I from 1928 until 1939. 

Communist Rule Over Albania

Unfortunately, Albania’s new monarchy didn’t last long, and after an invasion from Italy in 1939, the royal family was forced into exile.

A group gathered on the street lifts their arms into the air and exposes their red-painted fists

Source: Freepik

After World War II, Zog tried to reclaim kingship, but the new Communist Party ruling over Albania banned him from returning. The political party dominated and governed for decades until communist rule ended in 1990. 

Crown Prince Leka

A 1997 referendum proposed reinstating the monarchy and making Zog I’s son, Leka, the official king. While it was voted against, many still considered him the king of Albania. 

Prince Leka of Albania, son of King Zog I of Albania, in Madrid, Spain.

Source: Gianni Ferrari/Getty Images

Eventually, Leka died in 2011, and his son, Leka II, became the sole heir to the Albanian crown and became known as Crown Prince Leka.

Happy Beginnings for the Couple

Before officially becoming the head of the monarchy, Prince Leka II met his soon-to-be wife, Elia Zaharia, in 2008. 

Crown Princess Elia dressed in a red coat alongside her husband, Crown Prince Leka

Source: @vaninaswchindt/X

As a talented singer and actor, Elia was famous across the nation of Albania. Just two years after meeting, Prince Leka II asked her to marry him.

Wedding Bells for the Royals

Eight years after they first met, Prince Leka and Elia got married in Tirana in the east of the nation. 

A man is dressed in a formal suit as he places a ring on the finger of his wife

Source: Freepik

The representatives of over 20 royal families from around the world attended the ceremony at the royal palace. Elia’s title was officially changed to Crown Princess Elia. 


Nothing Lasts Forever

Less than a decade after officially tying the knot, it appears a happy ever after was not in the cards for the heads of the Albanian crown. 

A woman dressed in a cream-coloured sweatshirt takes off her wedding ring

Source: Freepik

In mid-January, it was announced via a joint statement from the royal couple that they had set plans into place to get divorced.


Modern Breakups

In typical modern-era fashion, the couple released the short announcement on social media.

A woman using her smartphone is shocked by news she has just received

Source: Freepik

According to Vogue, one translation of the text read, “Since the marriage has lost its function, they have decided to resolve it with mutual consent by starting the necessary legal procedures.”


Plans to Commit to Their Daughter's Future

In the original Instagram post, the royal couple also spoke about the future of their daughter, Princess Geraldine.

A photograph of Princess Geraldine of Albania, daughter of Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Leka and Crown Princess Elia of Albania.

Source: AlmanachGotha/X

They wanted to reiterate that while they are having their own personal troubles, the couple will do everything they can to ensure their daughter is safe, well-educated, and happy in life.


Elia Makes Further Announcements

Princess Elia would later post a longer update on her own personal Instagram account, according to Hello! Magazine

A woman dressed in a white shirt uses her smartphone to post on social media

Source: Freepik

Shortly after uploading the lengthy update, the crown princess deleted the post. 


Crown Princess Believes in Family Values

Speaking in the statement, Princess Elia said she never wanted to consider divorce as a possibility, as she believes in strong family values. 

A photograph of Princess Elia holding her daughter Geraldine with Prince Leka to her left

Source: @CoutureRoyals/X

“This is not at all a reality that makes me happy, as I believe in family values as the most precious thing! I would never have chosen for my daughter to grow up with separate parents, but sometimes separation is the only option,” she wrote, via Hello! Magazine


Moving On with Her Life

“What matters most is that my baby girl experiences this moment as easily as possible. Thank you very much to all of you who wrote to me and gave me courage,” said Elia.

A woman pictured as she brings two large plants back to her new home

Source: Freepik

She continued, “Despite these difficult months I’ve gone through, your kindness has given me strength. I wish you health and happiness in your families.”