'Incredible' life of Norfolk suffragette princess told in new children's book

Sophia Duleep Singh

Sophia Duleep Singh - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service (Ancient House)

A new children's book is set to bring to life the "thrilling" story of suffragette and Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, who has links with Norfolk.

Ancient House Museum in Thetford will hold a launch event on Saturday, January 8, to mark a new book on the princess, who was a prominent suffragette and daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh.

Princess Sophia (bottom right) with Prince Albert Edward and Princesses Catherine and Bamba 

Princess Sophia (bottom right) with Prince Albert Edward and Princesses Catherine and Bamba - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service /Ancient House

The Duleep Singhs, the last Royal family of the Punjab, lived at Elveden Hall, near Thetford.

Born and raised on the estate, Princess Sophia was a leading member of the movement for women's rights and in the suffragette cause.

Photograph of Sophia Duleep Singh (right) with Prince Albert Edward, Princess Catherine and friends, 1889.

Photograph of Sophia Duleep Singh (right) with Prince Albert Edward, Princess Catherine and friends, 1889. - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service/ Ancient House

She was influential in 'Black Friday', which saw the Princess, Emmeline Pankhurt, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and other leading members of the suffragette movement take to Parliament on November 18, 1910 as part of their campaign for Votes for Women.

Melissa Hawker, learning officer at Ancient House, said: "The 400-strong demonstration was met by serious violence from the police to suppress the demonstration.

"Over 150 women were physically assaulted including at least 30 sexual assaults."

The Princess also took part in the 1911 census boycott.

The stamp featuring Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. Picture: ROYAL MAIL

Stamp featuring Princess Sophia Duleep Singh selling The Suffragette. - Credit: Archant

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Ms Hawker said: "A meeting with social reformer and suffragette Una Dugdale led Sophia to become involved in the movement for women’s right to vote.

"In 1909, she became a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), set up by Emmeline Pankhurst.  

"She was often seen selling the newspaper The Suffragette outside Hampton Court Palace where she lived.

"We often have a perception of the Suffragette Movement as very white but this is far from the truth.

"Sophia is a high profile example of the many women of colour who campaigned fearlessly to gain equal rights for women.

"She is a local women who had a national impact with her campaigning."

Now, Sufiya Ahmed has written a children's book named 'My Story: Princess Sophia Duleep Singh' after feeling the suffragette's important role had been "for so long overlooked in history".

Sufiya Ahmed, author who has written a children's book on Princess Sophia Duleep Singh.

Sufiya Ahmed, author who has written a children's book on Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. - Credit: Asif Patel Photography

The author said that she was "delighted" to be exploring her story at Ancient House - the museum founded by her brother, prince Frederick Duleep Singh, who purchased the building in 1921 and donated many of the objects and paintings in its collections.

It is hoped the book will encourage more people to discover her contribution to securing Votes for Women, and the museum is already working with schools to include the book in future projects.

Ancient House Museum Thetford

Ancient House Museum Thetford - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013


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