The youngest of 10 children, and the only daughter, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was born to Raja ‘Sir’ Harnam Singh Ahluwalia and was a daughter of the ruling house of Kapurthala state in north‐central India.
Educated in Oxford, she returned to India in 1918 and was immediately drawn to Gandhi’s ways. After her fathers death, she left the Kapurthala Palace and went to Mahatma Gandhi’s aashram. She was also Gandhi’s secretary.
In 1927, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur co-founded the All India Women’s Conference – a non-profit that tackles women’s rights issues. She also founded the Indian Council for Child Welfare and laid the foundation for the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). She was strongly opposed to the practice of purdah and to child marriage, and campaigned to abolish the devadasi system in India.
I am now in search of a woman who would realise her mission. Are you that woman, will you be one?
-Mahatma Gandhi wrote to her
She was quick to give up her princely comforts and joined the fight for freedom. After the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, she became a strong opposer of the British rule.
The flames of my passionate desire to see India free from foreign domination were fanned by him (Gandhi).
-Rajkumari Bibiji Amrit Kaur Ahluwalia
On the health front, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was the president of the Indian Leprosy Association and the Tuberculosis Association, vice president of the International Red Cross Society and chief commissioner of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade of India. In 1950, she was elected the president of World Health Assembly and led the Indian delegation to the World Health Organization.
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur’s father raised his children Christian after his conversion and so when she passed away in 1964, at the age of 75, she was a practicing Protestant Christian. However, she was cremated as per Sikh rituals in the Yamuna and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New Delhi officiated the funeral service that took place at her home.
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur left the legacy of a Princess who gave everything she had towards making the lives of those around her, better. She didn’t just fight for the nation’s freedom, but did her part in uplifting women and saving children from life-threatening diseases.