By Hysen Selmani
Memorie.al/ European and American press have often addressed the subject of the memories of the Albanian King, Zogu i-r, which he wrote and dictated during his exile from Albania. Considering the notes and syntheses that his assistant, Colonel Hysen Selmani, compiled over the years in his service, – always, next to the King of the Albanians, both at home and in exile, these notes, more or less with parts of detached, without strictly following the usual criteria of memoirs, and without having the definite, final form of an edition, they are prepared by Hysen Selmani himself, who has dedicated most of his life, as in Albania, as well as during the exile, serving the First Zog, the King of the Albanians.
Continues from last issue
PARIS, “FOCH” HOSPITAL, ON APRIL 9, 1961
April 9, 1961, 3:40 p.m. This is the time when His Majesty, Zog I, King of the Albanians, is in great fatigue. He took Prince Leka in his lap and put his arm around his neck and then said in a low voice: “Leka, now you are a man. Keep the orders that I have advised you. Don’t worry about anything the good of the Motherland! Make every sacrifice and, if the occasion allows, let your life not suffer for the good of Albania and the Albanians”.
When he finished these words, he raised his head and looked at us all. With his other hand, he took the Queen’s hand and was looking at his sisters. They were torn. His face was smiling as always. After that, he did not move and closed his eyes and died. These minutes, there is no pen to write them. This pain and this sadness, when the news of the death of the beloved King was given, erupted with a shout and call, from the people present. This shocked the world, inside and outside the hospital.
For three days, the hospital was surrounded by thousands of Albanians and Albanians who had run without visas from all over Europe. When the news of the mourning and death of the King was given, at this moment, so saddened by the cries, they entered, through the corridors of the hospital. There was no human heart to endure their tears and cries, so that even foreigners shed tears like water from the pain that the Albanians felt.
They did not go away calling, men and women. They wanted to stand by him: “As we have stood in life, so in death, for our savior is immortal”! And, as we have sworn, they began to swear again: “He is not dead, but we are finished with the entire Albanian people” – they said.
Her Majesty, Queen Geraldine, was very impressed and could not stand it, she was very ill. The doctors advised her to be hospitalized, but she refused. The queen was sitting next to the Albanians, shedding tears like a river. She was surprised at the calls and pains that were made by the Albanians. The foreigners were equally surprised, who stood sad and with tears in their eyes.
Crown Prince Leka really showed himself to be very patient, just like a man, who completely agreed with the high Albanian customs. He thanked his foreign and Albanian friends profusely, and on the other hand, he spoke with respect to all the representatives of the countries who came to offer condolences.
At this time, a commission was formed that had all the preparations to meet the needs, both with the French government and another part, it was also valid, for questions from embassies and for journalists, as well as for the funeral ceremony. The commission was composed of 1- Qemal Mesareja, 2- Milto Nocka, 3- Odhosi Dhima, 4- Jusuf Begeja, 5- Sefedin Çollaku, and several others. Urgently, telegrams were given to the Albanians, in all the countries of the “Free World”, on the death of His Majesty, Zog the First, King of the Albanians, and it was also requested that they send delegates from every center, as soon as possible for the burial of King Zog. Also, the work was about: “Placing the Crown”. In this way, all friends were notified.
On April 10, 1961, the body of His Majesty, King Zog I, was placed in a glass coffin and laid out for homage in a large hospital hall. For 24 hours, he was under the gaze of Albanians. They surrounded him, shedding tears and praying to the great Lord for His Spirit. The King’s face was shocking, because it was intact. Many remembered that he is alive and asleep. He attracted the attention of every person and his mouth, as always, remained in the form of laughter.
The President of the French Republic, His Excellency, General de Gaule, sent a delegate. He himself was on the Côte d’Azur and sent a telegram to Prince Leka with a very good text. And all the representatives of friendly European, Turkish, Arab and other foreign countries sent telegrams. Queen Geraldine and the Crown Prince, Leka I, thanked everyone after that.
Paris, April 11, 1961
On April 11, 1961, at 1:00 p.m., the funeral ceremony of Zogu I, the King of the Albanians, was prepared. The coffin rested on the shoulders of the Albanians and was covered with the National Flag. Above the coat of arms, gold writing appeared in large letters, the words that King Zog I always had in his heart: “Homeland above all”. The tears of Albanians and all friends surrounded the Queen and Prince Leka.
At this moment, which was so painful and sad, Queen Geraldine and Crown Prince Leka were comforted with oil. In this very sad sight, we cannot leave without mentioning the painful words of Her Majesty, Queen Geraldine, surrounded by Albanians who carried the coffin of their beloved King. She told you these words:
“Dear Albanian brothers and sisters”!
Do not forget the words that your beloved King always had in his heart, which are written on the National Flag above the coat of arms: “Homeland above all”. So, at this moment, the spirit of your King is up there watching you. He prays to the great God, for the good of Albania and for the happiness of the Albanians”.
These words of her Majesty, Queen Geraldine, inflamed even more the pain of Albanians and foreign friends. The Albanians did not hear to remove the coffin from the arm until the procession started to leave, it was well organized and a large majority, that the French police had stopped the traffic until Thiais, which was almost an hour away.
With a rather magnificent procession, the ceremony of escorting the body of His Majesty Zog, the 1st King of the Albanians, to the eternal residence in “Thiais Parisien” took place. It is understood, provisionally, until his desirable place opens up. When he was being buried, religious prayers were offered on one side, and on the other side, the tears and screams of the Albanians did not stop. Speeches were made, but who could listen!
Tamam at this time, very impressed with Her Majesty Queen Geraidin, faints. The doctors immediately advised us to send him to a clinic as soon as possible. She was with her sister Virgina and niece, Julia, and two officers. We sent her to a clinic, but she was quite sick. The next day, Prince Leka and I went to the clinic in San Jerme to see Her Majesty the Queen. She was calmer, but quite shaken. The doctors told us that; “a month of strong treatment was needed here at the clinic.” She could not go out. We encouraged her, she was getting some strength.
CORONATION OF PRINCE LEKA, HEIR WITH THE NAME LEKA I, KING OF THE ALBANIANS
After the burial ceremonies of King Zog I was completed, a commission was appointed. His duty was, as far as expectations of consolation were concerned, to convey friends.
Since the time did not wait, because the delegations that had come from the distant countries of the “Free World”, such as: Australia, Zealand, the United States of America, Canada, etc., had to return to their countries, this was the reason that on April 14, 1961, the first meeting was held in Ablon, with the participation of all the delegates and all the other Albanians who were there.
Talks continued for the appointment of the heir to the Albanian Royal Crown. And, according to the talks that continued throughout the morning and afternoon, unanimously, all the delegates decided that on April 15, 1961, a provisional National Assembly would be convened, based on the laws of the Albanian Constitution, to crown the Crown Prince, Leka, as King of the Albanians.
According to this decision, several salons were sent and occupied in the “Bristol” hotel in Paris, for one day, where people were sent to decorate the salons with national flags and a tribune, according to the provisions of the Albanian Kingdom.
Even other Albanians gathered by the thousands in Ablon, did not disperse like those from France, Belgium, Germany and Great Britain. They were waiting for the National Assembly to finish. Here there was an atmosphere of sympathy for their beloved Prince. He was young and endowed with a wide culture. He spoke several languages and was loved and very democratic by the Albanians.
While Her Majesty, Queen Geraldine, was a little better in the clinic. However, after these, the Queen Mother was quite weak and tired. She accepted many of the delegates to visit her. But, anyway, she was tired and always in the clinic.
With the Queen, we had left her sister Virginia, her niece, Julia, and two officers. Naturally, Prince Leka I, always accompanied by me, went to the clinic every day. It is understood that to see it, we did not have time to stay long.
On April 15, 1961, the provisional National Assembly, at 10 o’clock in the morning, met at the “Bristol” hotel in Paris. They immediately began negotiations on the election of a legal commission. This was done to prepare the entire formula, based on the acts of the Basic Statute of the Albanian Kingdom.
The Legal Commission took into consideration article 51 and 55 of the Basic Statute, in force of the Albanian Kingdom, approved by the National Assembly on December 1, 1928. Based on this, the Crown Prince automatically became the King of the Albanians.
The Assembly, on the basis of the report that the legal commission submitted, and on the basis of the mentioned articles of the Basic Statute, considered the name and the hour that the Prince would be called before the Assembly, to take the oath.
After these talks, it was deemed more agreeable that the name should be decided: “Leka I, King of the Albanians”. This was liked by all and so it was decided.
On April 15, 1961, at 1:00 p.m., in the hall of the “Bristol” hotel in Paris. The provisional assembly, officially convened, attended by a large majority of Albanians and foreigners, in addition to journalists from all over the world, based on articles 51 and 55 of the Basic Statute of the Kingdom of Albania, unanimously decided that; Crown Prince Leka decided on the coronation, under the name Leka I, King of the Albanians.
After this decision was taken, the Assembly sent a delegation to present to His Majesty Leka I, that she had proclaimed him King of the Albanians, with this name: “Leka I, King of the Albanians”. And after the delegation of the provisional Albanian National Assembly was welcomed and escorted, the presence of King Leka was scheduled at the Assembly at 19:00 in the afternoon.
His Majesty Leka I, the King of the Albanians, on that date at 19.00, accompanied by the chief adjutant, Colonel Hysen Selmani and the minister of the Royal Court, Qemal Mesare, appeared at the National Assembly, where King Leka I -re, directed these words to you:
“Dear assembly members and my compatriots. In these difficult circumstances where we find ourselves today, at this moment that I am taking on the heavy and sacred state burden, I call on all Albanians, without exception, inside and outside the Motherland, asking for their support, for the fulfillment of the mission heavy and so sacred, of the Kingdom of all Albanians”.
Long live Ethnic Albania!
With these words, His Majesty, King Leka I, stood up and on the way out, the entire Assembly and the Albanians who were there cheered and accompanied him, until he got into the car. Meanwhile, the Assembly continued to fill in the minutes.
At the hotel, a very rich cocktail was served for all the members of the Assembly, foreigners, journalists and all those Albanians who were there, which continued until the last hour of the night.
After that, His Majesty Leka I, the King of the Albanians, accompanied by Colonel Hysen Selmani and Qemal Mesareja, went directly to S. Jearme, to the clinic where Her Majesty, Queen Geraldine was laid up. She hugged the boy and we congratulated her and she was happy.
On April 16, 1961, the members of the Assembly went to S. Jearme to the clinic where Her Majesty Queen Geraldine was staying. She accepted them all in pieces and thanked them profusely.
On the 17th, all the delegates, those from distant countries, left, having ended their entire mission, signing all the minutes of the occasion. Memorie.al