Princess Yunying – The tragic and short life of Emperor Puyi’s sister




Yunying
Princess Yunying (centre)(public domain)

Princess Yunying was the younger sister of Puyi, the Last Emperor of China. She was the eldest and favourite daughter of Prince Zaifeng, the Prince of Chun. Because she was his favourite, Prince Zaifeng had grand dreams for her. She married Empress Wanrong’s younger brother, Gobulo Runliang. Her life came to a sudden end at the age of seventeen because of her family’s distrust of Western medical practices. Out of all of Emperor Puyi’s seven sisters, Princess Yunying had the shortest life.

In 1908, Princess Yunying was born in Beijing. She was the eldest daughter of Zaifeng, the Prince of Chun and the half-brother of Emperor Guangxu. Her mother was Gūwalgiya Youlan. She had two older brothers, two younger brothers, and six younger sisters. When she was born, the two-year-old Puyi (her eldest brother) became the new Emperor of China with their father as Regent.[1] While they were growing up, Princess Yunying and Emperor Puyi had a very close relationship.[2] Their relationship continued to deepen after she had married.[3]

Princess Yunying was Prince Zaifeng’s favourite because she was his eldest daughter.[4] Prince Zaifeng began to view her as a political pawn that would strengthen his status.[5] Therefore, he gave her the most attention.[6] Princess Yunying was given an education in the Confucian classics.[7] She was also said to be very virtuous, gentle, and had an elegant appearance.[8]

Prince Zaifeng began to look for a suitor that would bring him the most advantage. Prince Zaifeng decided that Gobulo Runliang, the eldest son of Rongyuan (the Minister of the Interior), would be the most suitable husband for his daughter.[9] Runliang was educated and came from one of the most prestigious clans of the Manchu Eight Banners.[10] Later in 1922, Runliang’s elder sister, Wanrong, would marry Emperor Puyi and become Empress of China.[11] 

Princess Yunying married Gobulo Runliang. It is unclear whether their marriage was happy. Some scholars claim that Princess Yunying and Gobulo Runliang had different personalities, which made their marriage unhappy. They claimed he smoked and was a womanizer.[12] Other scholars believe that their marriage was blissful and affectionate.[13] What is clear is that the marriage was too short for the couple to produce children.

In 1925, Princess Yunying began to suffer from appendicitis. The Chinese medicines could not cure her. The only choice that was left to save her was surgery.[14] However, Prince Zaifeng was still fearful of foreign medical practices and refused surgery as an option.[15] Thus, Princess Yunying continued to suffer until she finally died a few days later.[16] She was seventeen years old.[17]

Princess Yunying’s short life came to such an abrupt end due to her father’s suspicions of foreign medical practices. All of the hopes that Prince Zaifeng once had for his favourite daughter remained unfulfilled. Princess Yunying was intelligent and virtuous.[18] Yet, her life was the shortest out of Emperor Puyi’s sisters. Emperor Puyi would greatly mourn the loss of his closest childhood sibling.

Sources:

DayDayNews. (September 9, 2019). “Puyi had seven sisters. What was their fate after the death of Qing Dynasty?”. Retrieved on 12 November 2022 from https://daydaynews.cc/en/history/amp/15339.html

iNews. (n.d.). “What happened to the seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi?” Retrieved on 12 November 2022 from https://inf.news/ne/history/6ba8b7d02467d0430951d4307a8d09ac.html.

iNews. (n.d.). “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”. Retrieved on 12 November 2022 from https://inf.news/en/history/a63acf578e7646fa47708dcf6f6e263b.html.

Laitimes. (December 17, 2021). “The last emperor Puyi had seven younger sisters, and what was the final fate of these sisters?”. Retrieved on 12 November 2022 from https://www.laitimes.com/en/article/1a79d_1bjoj.html.


[1] iNews, n.d., “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”

[2] Laitimes, 17 December 2021, “The last emperor Puyi had seven younger sisters, and what was the final fate of these sisters?”

[3] Laitimes, 17 December 2021, “The last emperor Puyi had seven younger sisters, and what was the final fate of these sisters?”

[4] iNews, n.d., “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”

[5] iNews, n.d., “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”

[6] iNews, n.d., “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”

[7] DayDayNews, 9 September 2019, “Puyi had seven sisters. What was their fate after the death of Qing Dynasty?”

[8] DayDayNews, 9 September 2019, “Puyi had seven sisters. What was their fate after the death of Qing Dynasty?”

[9] iNews, n.d., “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”

[10] DayDayNews, 9 September 2019, “Puyi had seven sisters. What was their fate after the death of Qing Dynasty?”

[11] iNews, n.d., “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”

[12] “iNews, n.d., “What happened to the seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi?”

[13] DayDayNews, 9 September 2019, “Puyi had seven sisters. What was their fate after the death of Qing Dynasty?”

[14] iNews, n.d., “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”

[15] iNews, n.d., “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”

[16] iNews, n.d., “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”

[17] iNews, n.d., “The seven sisters of the last emperor Puyi are all superb, but the ending is different.”

[18] DayDayNews, 9 September 2019, “Puyi had seven sisters. What was their fate after the death of Qing Dynasty?”






About Lauralee Jacks 171 Articles
I am a former elementary teacher in Tennessee. I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal and Civic Studies from St. Mary’s College of California, a master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the College of Saint Mary. Because my family are from East Asia, I have a passion for historical Chinese and Korean television shows. I always wanted to separate fact from fiction in dramas. Writing articles from History of Royal Women gives me a chance to dig deeper and explore these royal women as they might have been in real life. Also, it gives me a chance to look at the history and culture of where my family originated. I love researching East Asian royalty because they rarely get enough attention in the West often being overshadowed by European royalty. I find these royal women to be just as fascinating and their stories deserve to be told. Thus, I am excited to write for History of Royal Women!

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