- By Mark Savage
- BBC Music Correspondent
Pop star Dua Lipa was granted Albanian citizenship for promoting the country through her music and fame.
The star was born in London in 1995 to Kosovo Albanian parents and briefly returned to the region as a teenager.
Albanian President Bajram Begaj said Lipa had made the country “proud of his global career and commitment to important social causes.”
The New Rules singer said it was “a great, indescribable joy” to accept citizenship.
After posing for photos with President Begaj at Tirana City Hall, Lipa took the citizenship oath, gave her fingerprints and signed an ID card and passport application form.
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Lipa’s parents left Kosovo around 1992, as tensions that ultimately led to the 1998-99 war began to surface.
The singer’s grandfather, Seit Lipa, headed the Kosovo History Institute when it was targeted by Serbian law in 1992, a move that a United Nations special rapporteur later called a sign of violations growing human rights.
Moving to Camden, the family raised Lipa culturally conscious, with Albanian remaining her first language although she fell in love with Western pop stars like Pink and Nelly Furtado.
But her parents always intended to return home – which they did after Lipa left primary school aged 11.
“It took me a long time to find my feet there” she told NPR earlier this year. “It’s interesting to come into this at 11 years old, but I think I wouldn’t change it for anything because it’s really helped me become who I am.”
Eventually, the singer decided to return to London to pursue her dreams of a singing career, living with a family friend until she was 16.
“I guess it was scary for (my parents),” she told BBC News in 2016. “But I was constantly on the phone to them: ‘Okay, I woke up. OK, I’m at home. school. OK, I’m back home.
“For them, it must have been a roller coaster of emotions. For me, it was the best time of my life.”
Since rising to fame with hits like New Rules, Be The One, Don’t Start Now and Levitating, the singer has made it a point to honor her legacy.
In 2018, she founded the Sunny Hill Festival with her father, raising money for the Sunny Hill Foundation, which helps vulnerable and needy people.
She will end her world tour this week in the Albanian capital, Tirana, with a show marking the 110th anniversary of the country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire.
However, her support for Albania sparked a backlash in 2020 after she published a map appearing to show Albania, Kosovo and parts of neighboring Balkan countries as one nation, with a caption suggesting that the Albanians are native to the region.
This controversial image is associated with ultranationalists who believe that Albania’s borders should be expanded.
“It makes me sad and angry that my message has been deliberately misinterpreted by certain groups and individuals who promote ethnic separatism, which I completely reject,” she wrote in a statement.
“We all deserve to be proud of our ethnicity and origins. I just want my country to be represented on a map and to be able to talk with pride and joy about my Albanian roots and my homeland.”