Princess Sophia Duleep Singh's achievements
Print this page
Full version with graphics
- Sophia joined the WSPU and became a dedicated active member. - Sophia became a member of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1909, through the Richmond and Kew branch. The WSPU was a new political group formed by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst and became the leading militant organisation campaigning for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. The work of the Women’s Social and Political Union was begun by Mrs Pankhurst in Manchester, and by a group of women in London who were disenchanted with the progress that had been made by the NUWSS. They belived that the NUWSS tactics of petitioning and letter-writing were not having sufficient impact.
- The princess was at the forefront of the 'Black Friday' delegation. - After Prime Minister Herbert Asquith decided that there would be no parliamentary time for the The Conciliation Bill (which would have given voting rights to about one million wealthy, property-owning women), the princess and other activists, including Mrs Pankhurst, went to the House of Commons on 18th November. They requested to see the Prime Minister but the delegation was seriously mistreated and roughly handled on the orders of the Home Secretary. Many of the women were seriously hurt. The day became known as 'Black Friday'.
- She played an important part in the campaign for 'No taxation without representation'. - The princess appeared in court on two occassions for refusing to pay taxes. In December 1913 she was accused along with other members of the Women's Tax Resistance League (WTRL) of keeping dogs without a licence. She stated that "taxation without representation is a tyranny...I am unable to pay money to the state, as I am not allowed to exercise any control over its expenditure..."
- She gave support to women's participation in the war effort. - Princess Sophia joined the 10,000-strong Women's War Work procession led by Mrs Pankhurst which had the aim of involving more women in supporting the war effort. Many women found themselves working in jobs normally only done by men. Sophia herself, however, was a nurse.
- She helped to keep the Suffragette story alive. - Princess Sophia joined the Suffragette Fellowship. She remained a member to the end of her life. The Suffragette Fellowship was established by Edith How-Martyn in 1926 to keep the spirit of the suffragettes alive and promote the memory of the pioneers and events involved with women's emancipation. The focus was particuarly concerned with the militent suffrage campaign from 1905-14.
- She was elected President of the Suffragette Fellowship to replace Emmeline Pankhurst. - Mrs Pankhurst died in 1928 and Princess Sophia was subsequently appointed President of the Committee of the Suffragette Fellowship.
- She dedicated her life to "The advancement of women". - In the 1934 edition of 'Women's Who's Who', Princess Sophia gave her only interest as "The advancement of women".
- She was one of the influential women who helped parliament to eventually change its mind regarding votes for women. - In 1918 the Representation of the People Act gave the vote to women over 30, as long as they were householders or were married to a householder or had a university degree. In 1928 the right to vote was extended to all women. During this period Sophia campaigned continually, attending meetings, handing out leaflets on the streets, joining demonstrations and refusing to pay her taxes. As a wealthy and prominent women her actions were influential in promoting the cause.