“Princess Sophia Duleep Singh selling ‘The Suffragette’ outside Hampton Court Palace, where she has a suite of apartments.” Newspaper article from April 1913 (British Library).

Princess Sophia Alexandra Duleep Singh (1876-1948) was the goddaughter of Queen Victoria. The Queen allowed her residence in Hampton Court, Faraday House. Sophia descended from Indian royalty. Her grandfather, Ranjit Singh ruled the North of India from 1801 to 1839. Her father succeeded him until 1849. Sophia was arrested for the first time at the age of nine. Her family had attempted to return to India, after having moved to England in 1854. Queen Victoria then took responsibility for Sophia’s upbringing after both her parents passed away.

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was a remarkable woman of her time and followed what she believed to be right, no matter the context or consequences. She was one of the highest members of a patriarchal society, as Queen Victoria’s goddaughter. However, this did not stop Princess Sophia fighting for what she believed in. She was first inspired by a secretive trip to India in 1903, where she witnessed famine and suffering first hand. The Suffragette movement in Britain was comparable to the Indian Nationalists. This is where her passionate cause began.

She became a leading member of the movement for women’s rights. She sold the Suffragette magazine right outside Hampton Court. As part of the Women’s Tax Resistance League, she refused to pay taxes and appealed license fees to fight against the fact she didn’t have a vote. She was a leading activist alongside Emmeline Pankhurst, plus 300 women, who marched on the House of Commons to meet the Prime Minister on ‘Black Friday’. During this brutal event, Sophia defended a sister suffragette by directly fighting with a police officer. Unexpectedly, she even threw herself in front of the prime minister’s car with a “give women the vote!” pamphlet!

In 1934, when she was asked to provide an entry to Who’s Who, she simply wrote that her life’s work was: ‘The advancement of women’. Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was an incredible woman and still remains a phenomenal inspiration to women of today, who should fight for equality and their rights.

Find out more about Sophia Duleep Singh here.

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