Queen Camilla of Britain has unveiled a new portrait of the Indian-origin spy and descendent of Tipu Sultan, Noor Inayat Khan, at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Club to honour her sacrifice as an undercover agent for Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the World War II.
The 76-year-old senior royal on Tuesday, 29 August also formally named a room at the RAF Club as "Noor Inayat Khan Room", where the portrait hangs opposite a stained-glass window celebrating women in the RAF which was inaugurated by her late mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth II in 2018.
The portrait was created by renowned British artist Paul Brason.
Noor became one of the two Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) members to receive the George Cross for her exceptional heroism and courage in extreme circumstances.
British Indian author Shrabani Basu, who wrote a book about Noor, expressed pride in having the Queen unveil the painting at the RAF Club. The book titled "Noor – 'Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan'" was gifted to the Queen during the occasion.
Who Was Noor Inayat Khan
Born as Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan in Moscow in 1914 to an Indian sufi saint father and an American mother. Completing her schooling years from Paris, following the fall of France during the Second World War, she escaped to England and joined the WAAF.
In late 1942, she was recruited into the SOE – created to conduct espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance in occupied territories during the war.
"Noor, known by her code name 'Madeleine,' was the first female SOE operator infiltrated into France, landing there on 16 June 1943. Despite the Gestapo's capture of most Paris Resistance Group members, Noor refused to return to England, choosing to support her French comrades and rebuild the group," stated the RAF Club.
“The Gestapo had a full description of Noor, who they knew only by her code name ‘Madeleine’, and in October 1943 she was captured by them. Despite brutal interrogation, she refused to give any information, either as to her work or her colleagues. She was imprisoned in Gestapo HQ, during which time she made two unsuccessful attempts at escape, and was then sent to Germany for so called ‘safe custody’. She was considered to be a particularly dangerous and uncooperative prisoner,” it noted.
Noor was then taken to the Dachau concentration camp, where she was executed on 12 September 1944, reported Independent.
Noor was awarded the GC posthumously for displaying the most conspicuous courage, both moral and physical, over a period of more than 12 months.
What is RAF Club
Founded in 1918, the RAF Club is a private Members’ Club and registered charity that provides a home away from home for officers of the RAF and their families. The Club counts around 24,000 Officers and former serving officers of the Royal Air Force and their families as its members.