Crown Prince Leka II and Crown Princess Elia of Albania have announced that they are headed for divorce after seven years of marriage. The ex-partners, who tied the knot in 2016 and have a three-year-old daughter named Princess Geraldine, announced their split citing that the union has "lost its function."
The former couple announced the split through an official statement posted on their Instagram handle. Even though the prince, aged 43, lays claim to a throne that ceased to exist after the dissolution of the Albanian monarchy in 1943, both he and his stylish wife, aged 40, had managed to captivate the public's affection since their marriage eight years ago.
End of a Seven-Year Romance
"Hello friends and lovers," read a message on Crown Prince Leka's official Instagram, translated into English. "Through this post, I officially inform you that LTM Prince Leka and Elia Zharaia have agreed to end their marriage. Since marriage has lost its function, they have decided to resolve it with mutual consent by starting the necessary legal procedures."
The announcement included a mention that the couple's three-year-old daughter, Princess Geraldine, is the focal point of their committed efforts to ensure a joyful and secure life for her.
"Regardless of the commitment to the institution of the family, LTM Leka believes that the values of mutual respect and understanding will form the basis of the relationship in its continuity, which will have as its motive the growth and education of LSM Princess Geraldine!!!" the post concluded.
The statement, shared yesterday, also said that the prince has chosen not to provide additional comments at this moment and has appealed for the respect of his right to privacy concerning this issue.
Leka, who serves as the head of the Albanian royal family, married actress and singer Elia in the capital city of Tirana in October 2016.
As per Hello! magazine, Elia issued her own statement on the separation, which has since been deleted from the platform.
"Friends and well-wishers, I need to inform you that today we started the legal procedures for the settlement of marriage, as we jointly decided to seek a divorce," she reportedly wrote on Instagram.
"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."
"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," she went on, according to the outlet.
"Despite these difficult months I've gone through, your kindness has given me strength. I wish you health and happiness in your families."
Spark in Marriage Lost
The couple celebrated the birth of their daughter in 2020 at the Queen Geraldine Maternity Hospital in Tirana. They named their daughter Geraldine, a meaningful tribute to the child's paternal great-grandmother, Queen Geraldine.
The queen died on October 22, 2002, exactly 18 years before her namesake's birth, adding a poignant touch to the family's choice of name. Queen Geraldine was the wife of King Zog I, the first monarch of Albania after its independence from the Ottoman Empire.
However, he fled the country in 1939 when Italy's fascists occupied the Balkan state.
Even though the monarchy was dissolved, Zog's son, King Leka I, continued to serve as the head of the House of Zogu and claimant to the throne until he died in 2011. His only son, Leka II, succeeded him.
The Crown Prince, a graduate of the Royal Military College Sandhurst and a former adviser to Albania's president, assumed the role of head of the House of Zogu and the titular King of the Albanians.
Given that Leka II doesn't have any sons, his current heir presumptive is Skënder Zogu, his first cousin once removed.
Leka II and Elia, who got engaged in Paris in 2010, were also involved in overseeing the Queen Geraldine Foundation.
The prince has also worked as an adviser, having served in roles within the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, and the Albanian President's Office. On the other hand, the princess is engaged in the field of arts and holds a position at the Albanian National Theater.