Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

October 28, 2002

Geraldine of Albania, 87, who as the wife of King Zog was for one year her adopted country's first and only queen and the only member of European royalty with American blood, died Tuesday in Tirana, Albania's capital.

Though she was a countess -- her father was the Hungarian nobleman Count Gyula Apponyi de Nagy-Appony, and her mother the former Gladys Virginia Stewart, a member of an old Virginia family -- her family's fortunes had plunged so far that at age 20 she was selling postcards in the Budapest National Museum. Then King Zog, who had been seeking a bride, saw her picture. They met on New Year's Day 1938, and 10 days later were engaged.

The wedding was triumphant. Her veil trailed from a high diadem of orange blossoms and her white satin gown was embroidered with pearls..

A year later, Italy invaded Albania, and Geraldine fled with her infant son to Greece. The king and 115 members of his court, carrying 10 heavy cases of valuables, followed.

Her husband died in 1961, and she lived in Spain and South Africa before returning to Albania four months ago. She is survived by her son, Leka, who returned to try to take the Albanian throne in 1997, but was rejected by a 2-1 majority in a referendum.

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