Search

New postage stamp released to celebrate forgotten suffragette’s historic role in battle for women’s votes

PUBLISHED: 08:06 15 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:06 15 February 2018

The stamp featuring Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. Picture: ROYAL MAIL

The stamp featuring Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. Picture: ROYAL MAIL

Archant

The names of the Pankhurst family, Millicent Fawcett and Emily Wilding Davison may be the ones that are synonymous with the struggle for women’s suffrage.

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. Picture: COURTESY OF ANCIENT HOUSE MUSEUM THETFORDPrincess Sophia Duleep Singh. Picture: COURTESY OF ANCIENT HOUSE MUSEUM THETFORD

But now a newly-released Royal Mail stamp commemorates the often forgotten role a leading suffragette and princess born on the Norfolk and Suffolk border played in winning women the vote.

Born and raised on the Elveden Estate near Thetford, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh often lived a life of luxury and even counted Queen Victoria as her godmother.

As the daughter of Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last king of Punjab, she had the option of an easy life - but chose to take a stand against the aristocracy she was part of.

As a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, her background meant she was something of a coup to an organisation keen to demonstrate its broad appeal beyond the white working classes.

“One of the things that made it really exciting for her to be part of that movement was that she was a princess,” said Melissa Hawker, learning officer at Ancient House Museum in Thetford - who even likened her to Thetford revolutionary Thomas Paine.

“She wasn’t going to kowtow to the establishment. She didn’t let anything lie.”

Prepared to court controversy, she sold copies of The Suffragette outside Hampton Court Palace - where she was living at the time.

She led a 400-strong Black Friday demonstration to parliament with Mrs Pankhurst in November 1910, fighting back against police officers who attacked protestors and physically assaulted more than 150 women.

Suffrage was a crusade which got her into trouble with the law more than once, as her refusal to pay tax meant landed her in court - appearances she turned into opportunities to air her views.

“She was very brave,” Ms Hawker added.

“She hated public speaking but she was so determined that she was able to say these things.”

Of the new Royal Mail stamps, which pay tribute to a number of suffragettes and moments from the movement, Ms Hawker said: “It’s really fantastic that they’re featuring her.

“Very often the narrative of the suffragette movement is what middle class women did.

“What’s really exciting about this set of stamps is that they’re featuring working class women who were an important aspect of the movement and also women of colour, who because they didn’t tend to get photographed.”

After years of rigorous campaigning, the suffrage cause achieved a significant victory when the Representation of the People Act was passed on February 6 1918.

This gave the vote to men over 21, but only to women over the age of 30.

Women also had to occupy premises of a yearly value of £5 to qualify for the vote.

It would be another 10 years before women were finally given the vote on the same terms as men.

Liz Law, Royal Mail spokesman, said: “Our Votes for Women stamps convey the scale of activities that the different organisations undertook in their tireless campaigning for the vote.

“We are proud to mark the anniversary of the Representation of the People Act – an Act that has given women across the generations the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

The stamps can be ordered from www.royalmail.com/votesforwomen and will be available from 7,000 Post Offices nationwide from February 15.

Other news

07:58

Summer is seriously over, as the Met Office announces temperatures in the east of England will reach a maximum of 13C this weekend.

Yesterday, 16:44

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss championed Norwich City on a visit to the US as part of efforts to woo an American football team to relocate to the UK.

Yesterday, 16:21

A father whose two sons rely on one of the 46 children’s centres under threat of closure has urged people to make their voices heard over the controversial proposals.

Yesterday, 15:13

Airy open carriages, free fast wifi and a USB point for every passenger – Greater Anglia have unveiled the inside of their new regional trains.

Most Read

Yesterday, 13:45

The first residents have moved into new affordable homes in Narborough, near Swaffham, which are part of a £4.3 million investment project.

Read more
Breckland Council
Thu, 18:30

People fear their town is “dying” after it was announced that one of its two banks is closing.

Read more
Post Office
Yesterday, 15:07

Ever since that fateful day in June 2016, questions have been asked over just what the people of the United Kingdom - and Norfolk - had voted for.

Read more
European Union
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

An animal charity volunteer is hoping to have her most successful rehoming event.

Read more
Facebook
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Police investigating a robbery which saw a teenager stripped of her boots and jumpers have released this image of a man they would like to speak to in connection with the crime.

Read more

Local Weather

Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 9°C

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Watton and Swaffham Times e-edition today
E-edition

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Watton and Swaffham Times weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy