An Indian princess and suffragette has inspired a new children’s book.
Sophia Duleep Singh, daughter of the last Sikh ruler of the Punjab, Maharajah Duleep Singh, grew up in Elveden near Norfolk, UK.
Sophia, a “shy but very determined young woman”, made history in the 1900s for campaigning for women’s rights, risking her privileged position and title.
My Story: Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, is written by Sufiya Ahmed, and is aimed at 9 to 13-year-olds. The new release was launched at Ancient House in Norfolk, a museum founded by Sophia’s brother, Frederick Duleep Singh, in 1921.
(via the BBC)
The princess lived life as a “typical English woman” before “looking for meaning in her life” as she grew older, explained the author.
Sophia was dedicated to campaigning for women’s rights. She sold The Suffragette paper, and joined both the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), and the Women’s Tax Resistance League. The princess even led a demonstration of hundreds of women to Parliament along with Emmeline Pankhurst in 1910. That protest later became known as “Black Friday”.
Ms Ahmed added: “I never knew about her and I was devastated to learn there was this suffragette who looked like me.
“The people we learn about in school, we remember for the rest of our lives – for me that was Florence Nightingale.
“I hope her story will inspire children. She struggled with a sense of belonging as a woman of colour, but chose England as her home.
“She was shy, but fashionable, very determined and well-liked. She was not the loudest in the room.”
Melissa Hawker, Norfolk Museums Service learning officer, said although royal status protected the princess it also tried hold her back.
“Children love how ardently she pursued what she thought was right, they respond to that fierce morality,” she said, “But her position was a two-edged sword.
“This was a princess of the Punjab, a god-daughter of Queen Victoria and a revolutionary fighter for equality and justice.
“She was extraordinary.”