JANE AUSTEN—Persuasion

"Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Princess Sophia Alexandra Duleep Singh

Princess Sophia was born in 1876 in England to the last king of the Sikh Empire. Her father was 11 years old when the British removed him from India to England and helped him out of his birthright.  This loss included the precious Koh-i-Noor diamond that is now part of Queen Elizabeth II's crown.

Queen Victoria most likely never felt she wronged him and was always fond of the young Maharaja even being happy to be named godmother to his daughter, Sophia.  The family lived as well-off landed and titled English subjects.   Sophia and her sisters even came out in society though none ever married.  For her part, Sophia was an "It Girl." She was fashionable, amusing and constantly being photographed.

At some point, Sophia's father realized he'd been badly wronged by the British, reconverted from Christianity back to the Sikh religion and died aged 55 in France. Around this time Sophia and her sister Bamba went off on a life-changing trip to India.  The full weight of their lost heritage became apparent.  Their grandfather had been a much-loved king and the state of his people under British rule shocked the young women.

Upon return to England, Sophia lost her sense of frivolity and took up the cause of suffrage. She refused to pay tax until she had an audible voice in how it was to be spent in her name.  She and Emmeline Pankhurst were great friends and Sophia was named President of the Committee of the Suffragette Fellowship when Emmeline died. Sophia died in 1948, aged 72.

Fun Fact: Sophia lived in a grace and favour apartment in Hampton Court Palace for a time.

 Further Reading

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