Hampton Court Palace’s very own former ‘Grace and Favour’ resident, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh featured on a Royal Mail commemorative stamp, marking 100 years since women were given the right to vote. The heritage stamp was released on 15th February 2018 and the image is a well-known photograph of the Princess selling the Suffragette newspaper outside Hampton Court Palace.
Sophia‘s father Maharajah Duleep Singh had been exiled by the British at fifteen and moved to England, where Sophia grew up at Elveden Hall. Her grandfather Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the last leader of the Sikh empire in Punjab, India and the last owner of the famed Koh-i-noor diamond, now part of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Queen Victoria was her Godmother and granted Sophia with ‘grace and favour’ residency at Hampton Court, where Sophia lived at Faraday House.
Sophia Duleep Singh was not your average princess, and with her royal heritage, she made an unlikely suffragette. She was a revolutionary, devoting her life to activism, fighting alongside Emmeline Pankhurst for female suffrage, and traded her silks for a nurse’s uniform, tending to wounded soldiers in the First World War.
In the 1934 edition of ‘Women’s Who’s Who’, Sophia cites her only interest as being ‘The Advancement of Women’. Sophia Duleep Singh died in Buckinghamshire in 1948, and her ashes were taken to Lahore – the former capital of her Grandfather’s kingdom, now in modern day Pakistan.