Indian Theme on Foreign Stamps: Royal Mail

Sophia Duleep Singh

Indian princess Sophia Alexandra Duleep Singh was honoured by the Royal Mail of the UK, which marked the centenary of the suffragette movement with eight special stamps. Princess Sophia Alexandra Duleep Singh, (August 8 1876-August 22 1948), the daughter of Maharajah Duleep Singh, is the only woman, who has one among the eight stamps to herself.

The image shows Princess Sophia “selling copies of the WSPU newspaper The Suffragette in April 1913. A member of the Women’s Tax Resistance League, (whose official motto was ‘No Taxation Without Representation’), the princess appeared in court on several occasions after refusing to pay taxes.”
The stamps feature original photographs of campaigning in the decade before the right to vote was passed with the 1918 Representation of the People Act.

During the early twentieth century, Princess Sophia was one of the several South Asian women who pioneered the cause of women’s rights in Britain. Although she is best remembered for her leading role in the Women’s Tax Resistance League, she also participated in other women’s suffrage groups, including the Women’s Social and Political Union.However, she was almost forgotten for 70 years, until BBC journalist Anita Anand, reportedly, came across the image in a magazine, pursued the story of the “Asian woman” behind the picture and wrote a book, Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary.

Princess Sophia’s father, Maharaja Duleep Singh, was taken from his kingdom of Punjab to the British Raj owing to political manoeuvring by Governor-General Dalhousie in India, and was subsequently exiled to England.

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