New Delhi: Indian princess Sophia Alexandra Duleep Singh on Tuesday was honoured by the Royal Mail of the UK, which marked the centenary of the suffragette movement with eight special stamps.
Suffragettes were members of women’s organisations in the late-19th and early-20th centuries which advocated the extension of the ‘franchise’ or the right to vote in public elections, to women.
Princess Sophia Alexandra Duleep Singh, (August 8 1876-August 22 1948), the daughter of Maharajah Duleep Singh, is the only woman, who has one among the eight stamps to herself.
The image shows Princess Sophia “selling copies of the WSPU newspaper The Suffragette in April 1913. A member of the Women’s Tax Resistance League, (whose official motto was ‘No Taxation Without Representation’), the princess appeared in court on several occasions after refusing to pay taxes.”
The stamps feature original photographs of campaigning in the decade before the right to vote was passed with the 1918 Representation of the People Act.
During the early twentieth century, Princess Sophia was one of the several South Asian women who pioneered the cause of women’s rights in Britain. Although she is best remembered for her leading role in the Women’s Tax Resistance League, she also participated in other women’s suffrage groups, including the Women’s Social and Political Union.
However, she was almost forgotten for 70 years, until BBC journalist Anita Anand, reportedly, came across the image in a magazine, pursued the story of the “Asian woman” behind the picture and wrote a book, Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary.
Princess Sophia’s father, Maharaja Duleep Singh, was taken from his kingdom of Punjab to the British Raj owing to political manoeuvring by Governor-General Dalhousie in India, and was subsequently exiled to England.
Her mother was Maharani Bamba Muller, and her godmother was Queen Victoria. She lived in Hampton Court in an apartment in Faraday House given to her by Queen Victoria as a grace and favour.
The Norfolk Council, on its Twitter handle, posted a message, speaking about the honour given to Princess Sophia.
“Great to see Princess Sophia Duleep Singh featured on the latest batch of @RoyalMailStamps, announced today. A prominent Norfolk women’s rights campaigner marked on the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918. Her family has links to @AncientHouseMus #Vote100,” the tweet read.
Dawn Butler, UK’s first elected female African-Caribbean Government Minister, also took to her Twitter handle to post a picture of hers with the Princess Sophia stamp and write alongside, , “I was honoured to mark the centenary of some women gaining the right to vote with @RoyalMail of their issuing of special stamps to mark the #100years. This stamp is of Sophia Duleep Singh, a prominent Asian suffragette #TheNextSteps #Votes100” (ANI)