Monday, May 24, 2021

The American Ancestry of Princess Geraldine of Albania

Princess Geraldine of Albania, held by her father Crown Prince Leka, in front of a picture of her great-grandmother Queen Geraldine of Albania.
Photograph (c) Alamy/David Niviere.

Crown Prince Leka of Albania and his wife Crown Princess Elia welcomed the birth of their first child Princess Geraldine on 22 October 2020. The infant princess is the great-granddaughter of Queen Geraldine of Albania, who was born Countess Géraldine Margit Virginia Olga Mária Apponyi de Nagy-Appony on 6 August 1915, and who passed away on 22 October 2002 at Tirana.

Gladys Virginia Stewart.

It is through Princess Geraldine's great-grandmother and namesake that American blood courses through the veins of the newest member of the Albanian royal family. Queen Geraldine of Albania was the daughter of Count Gyula Apponyi de Nagy-Appony (1873–1924) and his wife Gladys Virginia Stewart (1891–1947), who married on 29 July 1914. The count and countess had three children: Countess Geraldine (later Queen of Albania), Countess Virginia (1916-2002; married in 1937 to András Baghy; married in 1947 to Joseph Blackburn; married in 1971 to József Máriássy), and Count Gyula (1923-1946). Following the death of her first husband in 1924, his widow Gladys married French soldier Gontran Girault (1882-1964) on 14 May 1926. The couple had three children: Sylviane Girault (b.Mehun-sur-Yèvre, Centre-Val de Loire, France 3 August 1927; married in 1955 to Maurice Muselier [1907-1989]), Guy Girault (b.1930), and Patricia Girault (b.1932). Aged fifty-six, Gladys Stewart Girault died on 19 November 1947 at Aix-en-Provence.

Mary Virginia Ramsay Harding and her granddaughter Geraldine, the future Albanian queen.

Gladys Virginia Stewart, Princess Geraldine of Albania's great-great grandmother, had been born on 18 July 1891 as the only child of John Henry Stewart (1831-1892), the son of David Stewart and Margaret Heighe, and his wife Mary Virginia Ramsay Harding (1871-1946). John Stewart and Mary Virginia Harding were married on 29 June 1890 at New York. In 1889, at the age of eighteen, Mary Virginia Harding authored a novel, The Soul of Lady Agnes. At the time of his marriage, John H. Stewart was the United States Consul to Antwerp, Belgium. After the death of Mr. Stewart, in July 1893 his widow became the guardian of their daughter Gladys. On 10 July 1902, Mary Virginia Ramsay Harding (widow Stewart) married Gustaf Victor Theodor Stråle af Ekna (1864-1935) at St. Helier's, Isle of Jersey. Gustaf/Gustave de Straele (Stråle af Ekna) was reportedly a chamberlain to the King of Sweden. Mary Virginia Harding Stråle af Ekna died before 1955, when she was buried in New York. 

The wedding notice of Edward Learned Harding and Lucy Booker Ramsey.
From the Spirit of the Age of Raleigh, NC (30 July 1856).

The obituary of Lucy Ramsey Harding.
From The News and Observer of Raleigh, NC (26 December 1906).

Mary Virginia Harding, the great-great-great grandmother of Princess Geraldine, was the daughter of Edward Learned Harding (1822-1885) and Lucy Booker Ramsey (1839-1906), the daughter of Walter J. Ramsey (d.1856). Edward L. Harding, a clothing merchant, and Lucy B. Ramsey were married on 22 July 1856 at Raleigh, North Carolina, by the Reverend N. F. Reid. After the death of her husband, Lucy Ramsey Harding moved to France, where she died in 1906. 

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