If we were to turn the pages of history, we would come across several men and women who led inspirational and brave lives. However, we have forgotten them over time, though there is a lot we can learn from their lives and experiences. One such figure was Princess Indira Devi, a bold and courageous woman ahead of her time.
One of the most glamorous women of her time who was featured in the Vogue Magazine in the 1930s, Princess Indira Devi, was born on 26 Feb 1912 to Maharaja Paramjit Singh and Maharani Brinda of Kapurthala.
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She wasn’t your average princess who only wanted to get married to a Prince and lead a cushy life. She wanted to do much more. She had her dreams, her aspirations, and she wanted to achieve them.
Movies excited Indira Devi, and she wanted to be a part of the world. So at the age of 23, she left India for London, intending to get into the world of movies. Only her sisters knew of her intentions. In London, she joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the oldest and the most prestigious drama school in the UK, to become a movie star. Though she could not become one, she worked briefly with Alexander Korda at London Films, who wanted to launch her as his next big star after Merle Oberon. But that didn’t happen as the world edged closer to the Second World War.
With the war, Indira Devi’s life goals changed. She decided to give up on her movie star ambitions to contribute to the war effort. So she decided to take the St John Ambulance examination. She was successful in clearing the exam and became an ambulance driver. Throughout the war, she drove motor ambulances rescuing people injured during the air raids. She also worked as a postal censor, a critical job with its share of danger.
She joined the BBC in 1942 for a media career that would last for more than three decades. She came to be known as the ‘Radio Princess’ and hosted a half-hour radio programme in Hindustani for Indian forces in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. She later broadcast a show called The Debate Continues, which centred around the politics of the day. She was the only woman in the Press Gallery of the House of Commons and continued to work for the BBC until 1968.
Not much is known about her life after she left the BBC.
She died in Ibiza, Spain, in 1979.
A princess, an actor, a fashion icon, a London socialite and a radio broadcaster, that was the persona of Princess Indira Devi, and that is how she is remembered.