Black Radical Hero: Princess Sophia Duleep Singh

For Black History Month this October our Black Radicals Season will celebrate the lives of some of our 100 Radical Heroes, the men and women who believed in ideas worth fighting for.  They dared to challenge convention and believed in the spirit of fairness, co-operation and people power.  They were pioneers who changed history and made life better for ordinary working people. This series of blog posts will highlight their achievements.  We also invite you to nominate your own Black Radical Hero to add to our list.  Tweet us @PHMMcr using the hashtag #blackradicalhero.

Amber Greenhall-Heffernan begins with a suffragette princess…

Princesphotograph - Princess Sophia Duleep Singh selling 'Suffragette' subscriptions, copyright Museum of Londons Sophia Duleep Singh was one of the leading suffragettes in the Women’s Social and Political Union and the Women’s Tax Resistance League. She was also elected the President of the Suffragette Fellowship after Emmeline Pankhurst’s death in 1928. Sophia was the daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh who was deposed in India and sent to England when he was 15 years old. He became friends with Queen Victoria, who became Sophia’s godmother and granted her an apartment in Hampton Court.

As a member of the WSPU, Sophia campaigned for women’s suffrage. On the 18th November 1910, she led a march with Emmeline Pankhurst to Parliament, to protest against the rejection of the Conciliation Bill which would have extended the vote to wealthy property-owning women. It became known as ‘Black Friday’ after there were clashes between police and protesters, with many women being assaulted. Sophia Duleep Singh was mostly known for her work with the Women’s Tax Resistance League which demanded no taxation without representation. She believed that women should not have to pay taxes if they did not have the right to vote, as they had no say in what the taxes were spent on. She was fined and sent to court twice for not paying licence fees for dogs, servants and a carriage. Refusing to pay the fines or the court fees, she had some of her belongings seized by bailiffs; however these items were bought by suffragettes at auction and given back to her.

Whilst the WSPU’s activities were suspended in World War I, Sophia worked as a nurse for Indian soldiers and organised events to raise money for wounded soldiers. Her visits to India after the war created a surge in campaigning for women’s suffrage internationally.

People’s History Museum has lots of suffragette items on display, including the famous photograph of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh selling copies of The Suffragette outside her Hampton Court Palace home in 1913.

Black Radicals Events

15 October 2015, Living History - Slavery & Suffrage @ People's History MuseumThurs 15 October
Living History performance: Slavery & Suffrage – William Cuffay’s Story
This Black History Month discover more about the life of Radical Hero William Cuffay.  This performance explores the horrors of the slave trade and how it fuelled the Industrial Revolution.  Meet William Cuffay, son of a freed slave, who became a Chartist leader and campaigned for the right to vote.
Family Friendly activity, suitable for over 9s to adults
Booking required via Eventbrite
In order to keep our events programme affordable to everyone, please make a donation.  Suggested donation £3
1.15pm – 2.00pm

15 October 2015, Radical Hero - An audience with Viv Anderson @ People's History MuseumThurs 15 October
Radical Hero – An audience with Viv Anderson
The Football Association invite you to celebrate Black History Month with Radical Hero Viv Anderson.  Viv Anderson was the first black footballer to play for England and features on our list of 100 Radical Heroes.
Suitable for adults and young people
Booking required via Eventbrite
In order to keep our events programme affordable to everyone, please make a donation.  Suggested donation £5
7.00pm – 9.00pm

29 October 2015, Living History - No Bed of Roses @ People's History MuseumThurs 29 October
Living History performance: No Bed of Roses – From the Caribbean to Manchester
Meet Gabrielle and help with her life-changing decision to move from the Caribbean to Manchester in the 1950s.  To celebrate Black History Month.
Family Friendly activity, suitable for over 7s to adults
Booking required via Eventbrite
In order to keep our events programme affordable to everyone, please make a donation.  Suggested donation £3
1.15pm – 2.00pm

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