KING LEKA I, Head of the House of Zogu, was proclaimed King of the Albanians on the death of his father King Zog I (at the age of sixty-six) in 1961. Albania is a small and mountainous country of about 10,700 square miles, situated north of Greece on the Adriatic Sea and bounded on its north and east by Yugoslavia. King Leka, who was born in Tirana, Albania on 4 April 1939, left that country three days later in the arms of his mother, Queen Geraldine, when the Italians occupied it and he has never been able to return. The proclamation on 15 May 1961 took place in the unlikely rendezvous of the Hotel Bristol in Paris in the presence of a speedily convened temporal y National Assembly, consisting of delegates and Albanian exiled monarchist dignitaries from all over the world. Twenty-two year old King Leka, standing head and shoulders above the officials at his side, duly took the oath. As for Albania, it became an independent Republic when the Communist Constituent Assembly declared it so on 11 January 1946. So it has remained.
After their departure, King Zog, Queen Geraldine and Prince Leka went to live in England, where they remained during the war years. After the war, when it became clear that King Zog would not be permitted to return to Albania, they lived in a villa in Alexandria at the invitation of King Farouk of Egypt. Since 1962, King Leka and his mother have lived in Madrid. Unlike other refugee Monarchs, King Leka has never been short of money, because his father succeeded in taking his sizeable personal fortune away from Albania with him. Prince Leka did most of his studies at English schools in Egypt and then in Switzerland. He passed out of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and then studied Economics at the Sorbonne. When he was eighteen in 1957. he declared his adherence to the Moslem faith, held by most Albanians.
King Leka married on 7 October 1975, an attractive Australian girl, Susan Cullen-Ward. She is now known as Queen Susan. The wedding, which took place in Biarritz, was an occasion for Albanian monarchists to exhibit further signs of loyalty to their King-in-exile.
King Leka has always been devoted to the monarchical cause, espoused so fervently and with such exotic flamboyance by his father. King Leka often travels to visit exiled Albanian communities in the Middle East, Australia, North and South America and South East Asia, among other places. It is interesting to note that whereas there are now about two million inhabitants in Albania, there are some three million Albanians in exile (chiefly in America and Australia) who recognize King Leka as their Sovereign. Exiled Albanians are of the opinion that there is a strong pro-monarchical feeling in Albania today, and, in order to discuss this, representatives of different Albanian political groups and organizations convened in Madrid in July 1972. King Leka was delighted with the success of the meetings held and declared that a united front had now been formed to fight against the oppression in Albania. If the Communist hold over Albania were ever to loosen, King Leka would be the obvious candidate to step in.