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Princess sophia duleep singh: International Women’s Day.

Today on International Women’s Day we pay tribute to Princess Sophia Jindan Alexandra Duleep Singh, 1876-1948.

The granddaughter of  Maharaja Ranjit Singh (known as the Lion Of Punjab), the daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh and the god daughter of Queen Victoria herself. Sofia was a fashion icon in high society and a favourite of the Queen. She lived a life of luxury as a princess would.

In 1903 this all changed when she visited India secretly and learnt about her great heritage. She met and admired freedom fighters there such as Gopalkrishna Gokhale, Sarala Devi and Lala Lajpat Rai. She was shocked at the treatment of Indians by the British and what had happened to her family being the last emperors of Punjab. She returned to Britain a changed woman. She returned a revolutionary, an activist and relentlessly campaigned for women’s rights as a Suffragette.

Princess Sophia pictured above with a group of Suffragettes the fourth from the left.

The Suffragettes were a group of women who campaigned for women’s equal rights, for example, women being allowed to vote. Many of the rights we as women take for granted in today’s society in Britain were  fought for by the Suffragettes. She attended meetings, and demonstrations such as the famous Black Monday demonstration where many women were injured as they clashed with police. She even went to the streets to sell the Suffragette newspaper at the gates of the palace.

She was also active in the Women’s Tax Resistance League, although this led her into court twice and bailiff’s visiting her house and taking her belongings. However she remained true to her heritage and fierce in her campaigning for justice and equal rights.

Princess Sophia was quoted in court saying “When the women of England are enfranchised I shall pay my taxes willingly. If I am not a fit person for the purposes of representation, why should I be a fit person for taxation?”

She was considered an embarrassment to the establishment as this Princess of Punjab used her status to make a difference, and was one of the leading figures of the movement here in Britain. Therefore until recently she was almost deleted from history. That is until Anita Anand wrote a book “Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary” telling the story of Princess Sophia.

Anita Anand also narrates the story of Sofia made into  documentary by the BBC, which can be watched here.

This is a story which we should honour, we should remember and tell our children that one of the first British Asian females in this country who was a descendant of Maharaja Ranjit Singh made such a difference. Today for International Women’s Day we at Punjab2000 remember and respect Princess Sophia Jindan Alexandra Duleep Singh.