William, Prince of Albania

Prince of Albania
Reign 7 March 1914 – 31 January 1925[1]
Coronation 21 February 1914[2]
Predecessor Monarchy established
Successor Regency
Zog I as next monarch, 1928-1939
Prime Minister

See list for:

Born (1876-03-26)26 March 1876
Neuwied, German Empire
Died 18 April 1945(1945-04-18) (aged 69)
Predeal, Romania
Burial Biserica Luterana, Bucharest, Romania
Spouse Princess Sophie of Schönburg-Waldenburg
Issue Princess Marie Eleonore
Carol Victor, Hereditary Prince of Albania
Full name
Wilhelm Friedrich Heinrich
House House of Wied-Neuwied
Father William, Prince of Wied
Mother Princess Marie of the Netherlands
Religion Protestant

Prince William of Wied, Prince of Albania (German: Wilhelm Friedrich Heinrich; Albanian: Princ Vidi or Princ Vilhelm Vidi; 26 March 1876 – 18 April 1945), reigned briefly as sovereign of the Principality of Albania as Vidi I[4] from 7 March 1914 to 3 September 1914, when he left for exile. His reign officially came to an end on 31 January 1925, when the country was declared an Albanian Republic.

Outside the country and in diplomatic correspondence, he was styled "sovereign prince", but in Albania he was referred to as mbret, or king. He was also styled Skanderbeg II, in homage to Skanderbeg, the national hero.[5]

Family and early life

William was born on 26 March 1876 in Neuwied Castle, near Koblenz, in the Prussian Rhineland, as Prince William of Wied (German: Wilhelm Friedrich Heinrich Prinz zu Wied). Born into the mediatised house of Wied-Neuwied, he was the third son of William, 5th Prince of Wied (brother of Queen Elisabeth of Romania), and his wife Princess Marie of the Netherlands (sister of Queen Louise of Sweden).

His paternal grandparents were Hermann, Prince of Wied, and Princess Marie of Nassau. Marie was a daughter of William, Duke of Nassau, and his first wife Princess Louise of Saxe-Hildburghausen, the daughter of Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, and Duchess Charlotte Georgine of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

His maternal grandparents were Prince Frederick of the Netherlands and Princess Louise of Prussia. Louise was a daughter of Frederick William III of Prussia and Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Prince William served as a Prussian cavalry officer before becoming a captain in the German General Staff in 1911.[6]

Candidate for the Albanian throne

Prince William's aunt Queen Elisabeth of Romania, on learning that the Great Powers were looking for an aristocrat to rule over Albania, asked Take Ionescu to attempt to persuade them to appoint her nephew to the post.[6]

Eventually the European Great Powers — Austria-Hungary, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the French Third Republic, the German Empire, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy — selected William, a member of the German princely house of Wied, and related to the Queen of the Netherlands to rule over newly independent Albania. The announcement was made in November 1913 and the decision was accepted by Ismail Qemali, the head of the provisional government.[6] The offer of the Albanian throne was first made to him in the spring of 1913 but he turned it down. Despite rejecting the offer, the Austrians put pressure on Prince William in an attempt to change his mind.[7]

Western Europeans considered Albania to be a poor, lawless and backward country in 1913, and some foreign opinion was scathing. The French press referred to Wilhelm as "le Prince de Vide", meaning "the prince of emptiness"; vide being a pun on his homeland of Wied.[8]

Prince of Albania

Royal Arms of William
Prince William and his wife Princess Sophie arriving in Durrës on 7 March 1914

On 7 February 1914, William let the Great Powers know that he would accept the throne. On 21 February 1914 a delegation of Albanian notables led by Essad Pasha Toptani and Arbëreshë ones (headed by Luigi Baffa and Vincenzo Baffa Trasci), made a formal request, which he accepted thereby becoming By the grace of the powers and the will of the people the Prince (Mbret) of Albania. One month after accepting the throne on 7 March, he arrived in his provisional capital of Durrës and started to organise his government, appointing Turhan Pasha Përmeti to form the first Albanian cabinet.[7] This first cabinet was dominated by aristocrats (prince Essad Pasha Toptani defence and foreign affairs, prince George Adamidi bey Frachery finances, prince Aziz Pasha Vrioni agriculture).

His brief reign proved a turbulent one. Immediately following his arrival revolts of Muslims broke out in central Albania against his Chief Minister, Essad Pasha, and against foreign domination that was not Turkish. Greece encouraged the formation of a separatist provisional government in North Epirus. Although an agreement was made to grant extra rights to the Greek minority there, the Hellenic Army occupied Southern Albania excluding Berat and Korçë. William's position was also undermined by his own officials, notably Essad Pasha himself, who actually accepted money from Italy to finance a revolt and to stage a coup against William. The plot was exposed, Pasha was arrested on 19 May 1914, tried for treason and sentenced to death. Only the intervention of the Italian government saved his life and he escaped to exile in Italy.[6]

The outbreak of World War I presented more problems for Prince William as Austria-Hungary demanded that he send Albanian soldiers to fight alongside them. When he refused, citing the neutrality of Albania in the Treaty of London, the remuneration that he had been receiving was cut off.[9]

Exile and death

His tombstone in the Lutheran church in Bucharest

With Albania in a state of civil war since July 1914, Greece occupying the south of the country, the great powers at war with one another, his regime collapsed, and so Prince William left the country on 3 September 1914 originally heading to Venice.[10] Despite leaving Albania he did so insisting that he remained head of state.[9] In his proclamation he informed the people that "he deemed it necessary to absent himself temporarily."[11]

He returned to Germany and rejoined the Imperial German Army under the pseudonym "Count of Kruja".[12] The name derived from the city of Krujë in Albania. When the Austro-Hungarians forced the Serbian and Montenegrian armies out of Northern Albania in the early months of 1916, William's hopes of being restored were raised although ultimately they came to nothing. After the war, he still harboured ambitions that he might be restored, but the participants at the Paris Peace Conference were unlikely to restore the throne to someone who had just fought against them.

Although several of the factions competing for power in postwar Albania billed themselves as regencies for William, once central authority was definitively restored in 1924 the country was declared a republic on 31 January 1925, officially ending his reign.[13]

With the monarchy in Albania set to be restored with President Ahmet Zogu becoming king, Prince William reaffirmed his claim to the throne announcing he still claimed the throne for himself and his heirs.[6]

Prince William died in Predeal, near Sinaia, in Romania, leaving his son Hereditary Prince Carol Victor, as heir to his Albanian claims.[14] He was buried in the Lutheran church in Bucharest.

Marriage and children

On 30 November 1906 at Waldenburg, Saxony, Prince William married Princess Sophie of Schönburg-Waldenburg (1885–1936); she was distantly related to the Orthodox Ghika family of Albanian origin.[15] They had two children:[16]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Styles of
Prince (King)[17] Vidi of Albania
Reference style His Highness
Spoken style Your Highness
Alternative style Sir


National dynastic honour

Foreign honours


Prince Wilhelm is portrayed in the 2008 Albanian film Time of the Comet (based on Ismail Kadare's novel "The dark year" (Viti i mbrapshtë), which takes place during his reign. He is played by the German actor Thomas Heinze.


  1. 3 September 1914 (de facto)
  2. An official delegation of Albania, led by Essad Pashë Toptani, made a formal request, which he accepted thereby becoming By the grace of the powers and the will of the people the Prince (Mbret) of Albania.
  3. Only Prime Minister during the de facto reign.
  4. http://www.royalark.net/Albania/wied.htm
  5. Pearson, Owen (2006). Albania in the Twentieth Century: a history. I.B. Tauris. p. 568. ISBN 1-84511-013-7.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Pearson, Owen (2006). Albania in the Twentieth Century: a history. IB Tauris. pp. 50, 64, 292. ISBN 1-84511-013-7.
  7. 1 2 Heaton-Armstrong, Duncan (2005). The Six Month Kingdom: Albania 1914. IB Tauris. pp. xii, 12. ISBN 1-85043-761-0.
  8. http://thepeerage.com/e206.htm
  9. 1 2 Kola, Paulin (2003). The Search for Greater Albania. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 16. ISBN 1-85065-596-0.
  10. Springer, Elisabeth; Leopold Kammerhofer (1993). Archiv und Forschung. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag. p. 346. ISBN 3-486-55989-3.
  11. Miller, Iii William (September 9, 1966), The Ottoman Empire and Its Successors, 1801 -1927 (Hardcover Revised and Enl ed.), Frank Cass Publishers, p. 529, ISBN 0-7146-1974-4, On September 3, 1914, Prince William had ended his inglorious six months' reign with proclamation, informing his people that "he deemed it necessary to absent himself temporarily."
  12. Jacques, Edwin E. (1995). The Albanians: An Ethnic History from Prehistoric Times to the Present. McFarland & Company. p. 358. ISBN 0-89950-932-0.
  13. Worldstatesmen
  14. Pearson, Owen (2006). Albania in Occupation and War: From Fascism to Communism 1940–1945. I.B.Tauris. p. 436. ISBN 1-84511-104-4.
  15. Theroff, Paul. "Albania". www.angelfire.com/realm/gotha/ (Paul Theroff’s Royal Genealogy Site).
  16. Outside the country and in diplomatic correspondence, he was styled "sovereign prince", but in Albania he was referred to as king.
  17. http://albca.com/aclis/images/albanian_pictures/princewilhelm.jpg
Wikimedia Commons has media related to William, Prince of Albania.
William, Prince of Albania
Born: 26 March 1876 Died: 18 April 1945
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Fejzi Bej Alizoti
as Chairman of the Central Government
Prince of Albania
7 March 1914 – 3 September 1914
Succeeded by
Qamil Musa Haxhi Feza
as Chairman of the Administrative Commission
Titles in pretence
New title  TITULAR 
Prince of Albania
3 September 1914 – 18 April 1945
Succeeded by
Carol Victor
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