Lived in exile at Parmoor House, Frieth, near High Wycombe, from 1941 to 1946
The son of a feudal lord, Zog became President of the newly formed Albania in 1925. Three years later he was crowned king. Although he was a Muslim, Zog married a Catholic countess, Geraldine. As King he was a reformer who eliminated serfdom and banned cruelty to animals. King Zog and his family were driven out of Albania by the Italians in 1939. They fled to France but had to escape when Hitler’s forces invaded in 1940. They were helped to England by Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond books, who was then a naval officer.
Parmoor House in Frieth belonged to the Cripps family. Sir Stafford, a government minister, was born there. It had been remodelled in the 1860s in an ‘Italianate Gothic’ style and stood in beautiful grounds. The King and Queen arrived there in 1941 and stayed until the end of the War. They were an exotic couple – Geraldine beautiful and glamorous, Zog described as ‘the last ruler of romance’, one of the ‘cleverest men in Europe’ and ‘frankly, a cad’. He kept gold coins in chests in the hall at Parmoor and reputedly smoked 200 cigarettes a day. The couple had a goat living in the house which once wandered into the dining room during a meal and ate the table cloth, sending the dishes crashing to the floor. Like everyone they were subject to war-time rationing and letters survive about their clothing coupons and petrol allowance.
Zog died in 1961 without ever returning to Albania but Geraldine was allowed back just before her death in 2002.
Find out more about King Zog and Queen Geraldine at www.albanians-in-exile.org
Biography: King Zog: Self Made Monarch of Albania by Jason Tomes. Published by The History Press Ltd 2007.
The footpath from Skirmett to Moor End through Hatchetts Wood, grid reference SU792894, runs alongside Parmoor House.
Parmoor House is not open to the public.