During the nineteenth century almost all the Balkan populations subject to Turkey succeeded, with the help of the Great European Powers, in becoming independent, creating several autonomous states in the peninsula.
In conformity with the European situation (where until the 1870 the only Republics were Switzerland and San Marino) these new nations were governed by a constitutional monarchy and the Sovereigns were sought out among the cadets of the great Dynasties.
Thus, with the exception of Serbia, which experienced the alternate domination of local potentates Obrenoviç and Karagjorgjeviç and Montenegro, which was governed by the Bàlshit-Piètrit-Njëgùshit dynasty, Greece chose a king among the Wittelsbachs of Bavaria, and, not satisfied, the changed after a few decades with a Prince of Denmark. The same did Bulgaria that the Prince of Battenberg who had chosen and then replaced because he was no longer acceptable to the Czar of Russia did: the new Prince was a Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Romania chose the Prussian Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.
In Albania, the only one among the Balkan countries with a majority Muslim population, Turkish power was maintained until the early years of the 20th century through the Government of local Pashas welcomed in Istanbul.
In the 1903 a movement was established in favor of Albanian autonomy which, thanks also to the unstoppable decay of the Ottoman Empire, managed to make itself heard by the Conference of Ambassadors gathered in London. This consensus then declared, 20 December 1912, that Albania was a Free and Independent State from Turkey, thus confirming the declaration of Ismaìl Kemàl bey Vlorë made in Vlore the 28 November 1912. Finally, with deed of the Great Powers of 21 December 1913, Albania is declared an "independent Principality ruled by a Christian Sovereign".
The choice of the Head of this new State fell on Prince William of Wied. Needless to say, the Albanians didn't even know who he was and that his candidacy had emerged through diplomatic talks.
In practice, it seems that no prince of any importance wanted to "exile" himself in Albania. But who was the new and first Sovereign of free Albania? William of Wied, born 16 in March 1876, was a cadet of a dynasty that until 1806 had governed the Principality of Wied, in Prussian Rhenish, which was part of the Holy Roman Empire, dissolved precisely in that year.
Queen Elizabeth of Romania, wife of King Carol I and poetess known by the pseudonym of Carmen Sylva, was born Princess of Wied. He had no children and was therefore very attached to his grandchildren. It therefore appears that she was the one who suggested the candidacy of Guglielmo, son of one of his brothers, for the Crown of the Country of Gjèrgj Kastriòti Skënderbèu. Elisabetta's nephew: because of the Romanian relationship and the German nationality, she gave allegiance to the Triple Alliance, without, however, provoking excessive suspicions; as a Lutheran, he naturally seemed destined to remain neutral in religious disputes between Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Muslims.
The 6 February 1914 William accepted the Crown and assumed the title of William I Prince of Albania taking possession of the state the following March 7. The 1 ° April the International Control Commission passed the Statute of the Principality and Wilhelm zu Wied in effect became the Monarch of Albania. The first fulfillment was of course to promote the birth of a Government, at the head of which designated Turhan pasha Përmeti. The latter immediately called the famous and feared Esad pasha Toptani at the Ministry of the Interior and War. Unfortunately, the new Kingdom would last only six months.
The 5 September 1914, in fact, the willing and magnanimous German Prince, with his wife Sofia (married to her 30 November 1906), born Princess of Schönburg-Waldenburg and her two children left the Albanian territory without returning. The internal difficulties, the hostility of the neighboring states and the outbreak of the First World War prevailed over William's good will (1) which, however, did not abdicate and kept his claims to the Throne of Shqipëtar throughout his life. The ephemeral and unlucky Prince of Albania then lived in Romania where he died at Sinaia in the 1945.
(1) - First Sovereign of Albania after the liberation of the latter from the dominion of the Ottoman Empire. He reigned from 7 March to 5 September 1914. A curiosity. Of the seven sovereigns who succeeded one another on the Throne of the Eagles during the twentieth century, William came in third place.