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Crown Prince Leka of Albania Makes First Appearance Since Royal Divorce Announcement

Crown Prince Leka and Crown Princess Elia of Albania wed in 2016 and share daughter Princess Geraldine, 3

<p>Albert Nieboer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images</p> Crown Prince Leka of Albania arrives at the Basilica Palacio de Mafra in October 2023 for the wedding of Princess Maria Francisca de Braganza and Duarte de Sousa Araujo Martins.

Albert Nieboer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Crown Prince Leka of Albania arrives at the Basilica Palacio de Mafra in October 2023 for the wedding of Princess Maria Francisca de Braganza and Duarte de Sousa Araujo Martins.
  • Crown Prince Leka of Albania returned to work the day after his divorce was announced.

  • The Crown Prince wed Elia Zharaia, an actress and singer, in 2016.

  • The divorce announcement stressed that the royal couple’s daughter Princess Geraldine would remain their priority amid the split.

Crown Prince Leka of Albania stepped out for the first time since his split from Crown Princess Elia made headlines.

On Tuesday, the 41-year-old royal paid a visit to the Queen Geraldine statue in Tirana, Albania, with Péter Sztáray, the Minister of State for Security Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, for a symbolic wreath-laying. The outing came the day after it was announced that the Crown Prince and his wife were divorcing after 8 years of marriage.

The prince seemed to be in good spirits in photos from the evening event shared on his official Instagram page. The caption explained that the ceremony was held to honor “Queen Geraldine’s Hungarian heritage,” as Leka’s grandmother was born in Budapest.

“The event was attended by members of parliament, Albanian NGOs, and the leader of the Legitimacy Party. A touching tribute to a dedicated queen and symbol of unity!” read the message shared in Albanian and English.

Related: Royal Couple Announces Divorce After 8 Years of Marriage in Separate Statements

According to the Tirana Post, the statue was donated to the city by the Hungarian Embassy to commemorate the late Queen’s legacy. Crown Prince Leka, Crown Princess Elia and their 3-year-old daughter Princess Geraldine — who was named after her great-grandmother — attended the unveiling on Zogu I Boulevard in February 2022.

On Monday, Leka and Elia used separate statements to announce that they were divorcing. Leka is the head of the Albanian royal family and married Elia Zharaia, an actress and singer, in 2016.

“Hello friends and loved ones,” began a message under the royal coat of arms on the Crown Prince’s Instagram page, per an English translation. “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.”

“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 statement said. It added that Geraldine’s spiritual and physical well-being “will remain at the center of their dedicated attention to ensure a happy and safe life.”

The statement said that Crown Prince Leka would not be offering further comment and asked for privacy during this time.

<p>OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty</p> Crown Princess Elia of Albania and Crown Prince Leka at the wedding of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov and Victoria Romanovna Bettarini at Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Saint Petersburg in October 2021.

OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty

Crown Princess Elia of Albania and Crown Prince Leka at the wedding of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov and Victoria Romanovna Bettarini at Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Saint Petersburg in October 2021.

Hello! magazine reported that Elia, 40, also commented on the divorce news in a separate statement which has since been deleted from social media.

"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,” Elia reportedly said.

"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,” she continued, according to the outlet. “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!”

“Despite these difficult months I've gone through, your kindness has given me strength. I wish you health and happiness in your families,” she concluded, according to Hello!.

It remains unclear what royal title or styling, if any, Elia may retain after the divorce is finalized. Leka inherited the Albanian crown upon the death of his father, King Leka I, in 2011, and Elia became Crown Princess of the Albanians when they wed in 2016.

<p>Luc Castel/GettyImages</p> Elia Zaharia and Crown Prince Leka of Albania on their October 2016 wedding day.

Luc Castel/GettyImages

Elia Zaharia and Crown Prince Leka of Albania on their October 2016 wedding day.

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Leka is the grandson of the late King Zog I, who ruled the Albanian Kingdom from 1928 to 1939. He and Elia met in 2008, got engaged in Paris in 2010 and wed at the former Royal Palace of Tirana on Oct. 8, 2016, his royal bio outlines. Their daughter Geraldine was born on Oct. 22, 2002, and named after Queen Geraldine, who died 18 years to the day before she was born.

During their marriage, Leka and Elia lived together in Tirana and worked to promote Albania and Kosova while running the Queen Geraldine Foundation.

<p>Blerta Celibashi/DNphotography/ABACAPRESS.COM</p> Crown Princess Elia, Princess Geraldine and Crown Prince Leka on Princess Geraldine's birthday in October 2022.

Blerta Celibashi/DNphotography/ABACAPRESS.COM

Crown Princess Elia, Princess Geraldine and Crown Prince Leka on Princess Geraldine's birthday in October 2022.

In December 2023, the Crown Prince wished followers a happy holiday season by sharing a series of snaps with Princess Geraldine. The photos showed the father and daughter hugging and playing together at what appeared to be an amusement park.

“Dear friends, I wish you a very joyous Christmas! May you cherish happy moments with family and friends during this special time! I hope this holiday brings joy and harmony to every home!” the Instagram carousel was captioned.

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