An Indian princess and suffragette has been honored with a Blue Plaque from English Heritage.
The painting dedicated to Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, granddaughter of Queen Victoria and daughter of the last ruler of the Sikh Empire, has been unveiled at her former home at Faraday House, Hampton Court, southwest London.
The princess was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) – a militant group led by Emmeline Pankhurst – and used her status and wealth as a member of the Punjabi royal family to support the cause of gender equality.
Among the guests who attended the ceremony were director Gurinder Chadha, actress Mira Syal, Professor Helen Pankhurst and Lord Singh.
“We owe Sophia this gratitude because without her courage and the courage of women like her you cannot take for granted the vote in this country,” said Anita Anand, author of Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary.
“She was one of those bloody-brained women who never do what they’re supposed to do.
Anand added, “Women’s history falls through the cracks and women of color fall through them.”
“Her constancy is something that should not be forgotten, and it is right that we see it in a painting so that when passing by, young girls would ask, ‘Who was she?'” “
Born in 1876, Sophia and her sisters, Bamba and Katherine, grew up in Folkestone and Brighton with their guardian, Arthur Craigie Oliphant, and his family.
Sophia’s early childhood was turbulent with her father, Maharaja Duleep Singh, abandoning his young family to live in Paris and her mother, Pampa Muller, suffering from alcoholism.
Later, Queen Victoria granted the sisters Faraday House in 1896 where they lived as adults.
From 1909 Sophia was active in the Richmond and Kingston upon Thames branches of the WSPU.
Copies sold Suffragette on her court outside Hampton Court Palace, and once tossed a poster reading “Give women the vote!” In Prime Minister Herbert Asquith’s car at the State Opening of Parliament in 1911.
The Suffragettes – The women who risked everything to get the right to vote
Sophia was also a member of the Women’s Tax Reform League (WTRL), a movement that refused to pay various taxes, insurances, and licensing fees under the slogan “No Vote, No Taxes.”
The princess was summoned to court several times and fined for refusing to obtain personal licenses for jewellery, dogs and a carriage.
Sophia also attended “Black Friday” on November 18, 1910, when more than 300 suffragettes marched from Caxton Hall to Parliament Square and demanded to see the Prime Minister.
The demonstration turned violent when the prime minister refused to see the suffragettes, and the police assaulted women who refused to leave.
Five years later, she was one of 10,000 women who took part in the Women’s War Action March led by Mrs. Pankhurst.
Sophia also supported the Indian Women’s Education Society in London and volunteered during both world wars – nursing Indian soldiers in World War I and sheltering evacuees in World War II.