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Albania: Principality, 1914

Last modified: 2014-08-02 by ivan sache
Keywords: eagle: double-headed (black) | thunderbolts: 2 (yellow) | star (white) | royal standard | crown prince | princess | peacock | crown | civil ensign | wied (wilhelm von) |
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[Principality of Albania, 1914]

Flag of the Principality of Albania - Image by Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

See also:

History of the Principality of Albania

In 1913, following the second Balkanic War, Albania was split among Serbia (Central Albania), Montenegro (Northern Albania) and Greece (Southern Albania). Austria-Hungary supported the independence of Albania whereas Russia and Serbia rejected it.
The London conference, including representatives from Austria-Hungary, Italy, Russia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, proclaimed on 29 July 1913 the independence of Albania. Article 1 of the final agreement stated:

Albania shall be an [...] hereditary Principality placed under the guarantee of the six powers. The Prince shall be appointed by the six powers.

The civil administration and the finances were to be ran for 10 years by an international commission representing the six powers. The military security of the Principality was to be provided by a Gendarmerie commanded by Dutch officers.

The Wied family is a very ancient German noble family, known since 1100. They probably originated on the left side of the Rhine and settled down later in the Westerwald, where they still live today. The head of the family bears the title of hereditary prince (Fürst) since Count Johann Friedrich Alexander of Wied-Neuwied was raised in this rank on 29 May 1784. The house lost its sovereignty after the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815).
Among the famous members of the family are:
- Count Hermann (1477-1552), Archbishop and Elector of Cologne (1515-1547), who introduced the Reformation in Cologne
- Prince Maximilian (1782-1867), who explored the north of Brazil on Humboldt's trail in 1815-1817 and Northern America in 1824-1832
- Princess Elizabeth (1843-1916), Queen of Romania and a famous poetess under the name of Carmen Sylva
- Prince Wilhelm (1876-1945), Prince of Albania from 7 March to 3 September 1914.

Wilhelm of Wied was not among the first 19 candidates to the throne, as listed by Christian Schmitz. However, Austria-Hungary and Italy said that the Prince had to be a Protestant in order to rule impartially the Mahometan, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic components of the Albanian nation. Wied was also probably proposed by Germany against Austria-Hungary; Queen Elizabeth of Romania, née Princess of Wied, was his aunt, and King of Romania was the German Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Since Germany was the least interested of the six powers in the Balkan question, the German candidate was accepted by the other powers.
On 21 February 1914, 18 Albanian delegates representing the 18 districts of Albania came to the castle of Neuwied and offerred the crown of their country to Prince Wilhelm of Wied.
The Prince accepted and landed with his family in Durrës on 7 March 1914, but his rule was short and unsuccessful. Wied was a brilliant officer but had no skills for international diplomacy. Moreover, he lacked the promised international political and financial support; Italy openly intrigued against him and Germany refused to depart from strict neutrality. The Muslims in Central Albania revolted, led by the Toptani family and its leader Essad Pasha, and asked for the reincorporation into Turkey. Wied left Albania on 3 September 1914, one month after the beginning of the First World War.

Source: Wied family website

Ivan Sache, 12 April 2006

Flag of the Principality of Albania

The prince commissioned the heraldist Emil Dopler Jr, who presented him five proposals on 17 February 1914. The flag of the Principality was similar to the former flag of Albania, except that the double-headed eagle had yellow beaks and claws holding a yellow thunderbolt.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

Prince's standard

[Prince's standard]

Prince's standard - Image by Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

During his short reign, the Prince of Wied used a personal standard similar to the national flag, but square and charged with a crown instead of a star over the eagle and a yellow escutcheon charged with a peacock on the eagle's chest.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

The peacock was the family coat of arms of the princes of Wied and became also the coat of arms of the new Albanian state. It is reported that the flag with the peacock still flies over the castle of Neuwied.

Mario Fabretto, 28 August 1998

The coat of arms of Wied is shown on Arnaud Bunel's website as:
Or four bends gules a peacock in natural all over.
On these arms, the peacock does not fan its tail.
The complicated arms of the Princes of Wied have 12 quarters and an escutcheon Or a peacock in natural. The peacock there fans its tail. Bunel supposes that the escutcheon shows the arms of Neuwied.
The same "dynastic symbol" is shown on the (reconstructed) flag of the Principality of Wied.

Ivan Sache, 12 April 2006

Princess' standard

[Princess flag]

Princess' standard - Image by Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

The Princess' standard differs from the Prince's standard by a thin yellow frame placed around the eagle.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

Crown Prince's standard

[Heir prince flag]

Crown Prince's standard - Image by Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

Crown Prince Karl Viktor was only 10 month old when the family left the country. His standard was similar to the Prince's standard but with a field white instead of red and a border made of alternating red and black rectangles.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

Civil ensign

[De jure 1914 ensign]         [De facto 1914 ensign]

Civil ensign
Left, de jure design - Image by Jorge Candeias & Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996
Right, de facto design - Image by Jorge Candeias, 15 July 1996

After 1914, the Albanian civil ensign kept the classical design of the Ottoman period, with the addition of a white star in the centre of the black stripe. The designer of the flags of this period, the heraldist E. Dopler, made the star with an unusual shape, but in reality normal stars were used.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

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