A portrait of the late Viscountess Rhondda is displayed

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Nearly a century later than she would have hoped, Viscountess Rhondda has finally entered the House of Lords - in a manner of speaking. A portrait of the suffragette and women's rights activist, has gone on display in the Lords' Royal Gallery - where peers will be able to admire it until Christmas.

Margaret Haig Thomas inherited her title from her father, a Liberal politician and industrialist, in 1918, when women were not allowed to enter the House of Lords.

In 1920, she petitioned the Lords for the right to sit and vote, citing the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919.

A committee found in her favour, but F E Smith, Lord Birkenhead, the famously sardonic Lord Chancellor, was bitterly opposed and ordered a rethink, having first packed the committee with like-minded peers.

So Lady Rhondda never sat on the red benches.

She did live to see the passing of the Life Peerages Act in 1958, but died before the first women took their seats, as life peers, that October.

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