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Remembering Catherine Duleep Singh

As part of Black History Month, we remember a Sikh suffragette.

Carrie Lyell

Wed, 21 Oct 2015 16:05:31 GMT | Updated 1 years today

If you take the film Suffragette on face value, it might seem as if the only people campaigning for Votes For Women were white and heterosexual. But that wasn't the case. 


Daughter of the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, Princess Catherine Duleep Singh (1871-1942) was a member of the Fawcett Women's Suffrage Group, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and, like her sister Sophia, considered herself a suffragette. 


Although she never used the word lesbian to describe herself, Catherine lived her entire life with Lina Schaeffer, her former governess 12 years her senior, who she lived without condition. 


Neither Sophia, god daughter of Queen Victoria, or Catherine's other sister Bamba, both pictured here with Catherine, were critical of this "intimate" relationship, and Catherine appreciated this tolerance from her family.  


Anita Anand, author of Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary explains: "Not even World War One would separate them and Catherine risked being branded a traitor by staying with Lina.


"When she died, her last surviving sister took her ashes to Germany so that they could be placed with Lina's remains." 


Find out more about the Catherine, Sophia and the Duleep Singh family in Anand's book. Click here for more information. 




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