Being a princess comes with responsibilities and following age-long traditions, however unjust. But who says you have to follow the inequitable rules? Definitely not these princesses. Today, we’ll look at some of the Indian princesses who broke the stereotypes and created their own legacy.
1. Maharani Gayatri Devi
Maharani Gayatri Devi, born as Ayesha, was a key instrument in the women’s empowerment movement. In 1943, she opened the Maharani Gayatri Devi School with 24 students, which is now one of the most prestigious schools in the country. In 1962, she contested her first election and won the Jaipur constituency in the Lok Sabha, for which she also secured a place in The Guinness Book of World Records.
2. Rani Vijaya Devi
Rani Vijaya Devi was the Thakurani of Kotda-Sangani, who had a keen interest in music and dance. She went to the Juilliard School of Music in New York, recorded for radio and television, and appeared in concerts. Later on, she became the founder and president of the International Music & Arts Society.
3. Princess Indira Raje
Indira Raje, mother of Maharani Gayatri Devi, was the Princess of Baroda. She was betrothed to Madho Rao Scindia of Gwalior when she met Jitendra of Cooch Behar and fell in love with him. She broke her previous engagement through a letter and married Jitendra in a hotel in London, without the presence of her family – a brave act in those times. She was also active in the social circles and acted as regent of Cooch Behar during the minority of her elder son.
4. Maharani Sita Devi of Kapurthala
Maharani Sita Devi, also known as Princess Kamran, was regarded as one of the most glamorous women of her time. A trendsetter, she served as the muse of several international photographers. At 19, she was called the latest “secular goddess” by Vogue. She was known as the Pearl of India’ in the fashion circles of Paris, New York and London during the ’20s and ’30s.
5. Princess Niloufer of Hyderabad
Princess Niloufer was one of the last princesses of the Ottoman empire. She married Moazzam Jah, the second son of the last ruling Nizam of Hyderabad, at the age of 16, bringing rebellion to conservative India. She challenged traditional norms set for women at every step of her life and kept pushing boundaries with her sense of style, encouraging everyone to follow their hearts. She also did a lot of charity work and trained as a nurse during World War II.
6. Princess Sophia Duleep Singh
Princess Sophia Alexandra Duleep Singh, the goddaughter of Queen Victoria, was a force to be reckoned with. She was one of the most outspoken suffragettes in the movement demanding women’s right to vote in England. She also supported Indian soldiers and lascars during World War I, and worked as a nurse. In 1909, Sophia turned to militant activism and joined the Women’s Social and Political Union, co-founded by Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the most well-known suffragettes in world history.