Princess Pearl

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Princess Pearl
Princess Pearl II (2013 Taiwan Ver.).jpg
2013 Taiwan DVD cover for Season 2 (1999)
Also known as My Fair Princess
Princess Returning Pearl
Princess Returned Pearl
Princess Huan Zhu
The Return Princess
Return of the Pearl Princess
Genre costume drama
teen drama
soap opera
historical fiction
Format serial
Created by Chiung Yao
Developed by Chen Chung-wei
Written by Chiung Yao
Directed by Sun Shu-pei (Seasons 1-2)
Li Ping (Seasons 2-3)
Ting Yang-kuo (Season 3)
Presented by Chiung Yao
Ping Hsin-tao
Ouyang Changlin
Starring Zhao Wei (Seasons 1-2)
Ruby Lin (Seasons 1-2)
Alec Su (Seasons 1-2)
Zhang Tielin (Seasons 1-2)
Fan Bingbing (Seasons 1-2)
Zhou Jie
Wang Yan (Seasons 2-3)
Huang Yi (Season 3)
Ma Yili (Season 3)
Leo Ku (Season 3)
Huang Xiaoming (Season 3)
Theme music composer Chuang Li-fan (Seasons 1, 3)
Kuo Wen-tsung (Season 1)
Phil Chang (Season 1)
Tso Hung-yuen (Season 2)
Lu Cheng-huang (Season 2)
Leo Ku (Season 3)
Hsu Chia-liang (Season 3)
Xiaojian (Season 3)
Opening theme 1. "Dang" (當) performed by Power Station
2. "Zicong you le ni" (自從有了你) performed by Zhao Wei
3a. "Tian shang ren jian" (天上人間) performed by Leo Ku
3b. "Zhi yao you ni" (只要有你) performed by Leo Ku, Huang Yi, Zhou Jie, Ma Yili, Huang Xiaoming and Liu Tao
Ending theme 1. "Yu die" (雨蝶) performed by Lee E-jun
2a. "You yi ge guniang" (有一個姑娘) performed by Zhao Wei
2b. "Ni shi feng'er wo shi sha" (你是風兒我是沙) by Zhou Jie & Ruby Lin
3a. "Zi jun bie hou" (自君別後) performed by Chen Sisi
3b. "Nai he" (奈何) performed by Liu Pan
3c. "Zai zhe libie de shihou" (在這離別的時候) performed by Leo Ku
3d. "Wen yan'er" (問燕兒) performed by Leo Ku
Composer(s) Xu Jingxin
Country of origin China
Hong Kong (Season 3)
Original language(s) Mandarin
Tibetan (Season 1)
Uyghur (Season 2)
Burmese (Season 3)
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 24 (Season 1)
48 (Season 2)
40 (Season 3)
Executive producer(s) Chen Tao-lung (Season 1)
Tu Chi-chung (Season 2)
Liu Xiangqun (Season 3)
Gong Ruofei (Season 3)
Producer(s) Ping Hsin-tao
Ho Hsiu-chiung
Wei Wenbin
Location(s) Beijing
Chengde Mountain Resort
Bashang Plateau
Yangzhou (Season 3)
Guangzhou (Season 3)
Running time 48 minutes
Production company(s) Hunan Broadcasting System
Yi-jen Media Communications Limited (Seasons 1-2)
Ho-jan Entertainment International Limited (Season 3)
Original channel China Television (Taiwan)
Picture format 576i PAL-D (SDTV)
Original airing 1998 (Season 1)
1999 (Season 2)
2003 (Season 3)
Related shows Hoàng Châu Các Các (2002)
New My Fair Princess (2011)
Princess Pearl
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
Literal meaning Return Pearl Princess

Princess Pearl, also known as My Fair Princess, Return of the Pearl Princess, or Princess Returning Pearl (還珠格格, pinyin: Huánzhū Gégé, often abbreviated as "HZGG"[note 1]) is a Chinese-language television costume drama set in 18th-century Qing Dynasty. Season 3 is also called Heavenly Earth (天上人間, pinyin: Tiānshàng Rénjiān).

Written by creator Chiung Yao, the Cinderella-like story revolves around tomboyish and cheerful Xiaoyanzi, originally an orphaned and semiliterate vagrant in Beijing who, after befriending Qianlong Emperor's illegitimate daughter Xia Ziwei, becomes a princess by accident. Although some characters, the plot premise, and certain sections of the story are based on historical events and figures, considerable artistic license was employed.

Season 1 (1998), jointly produced by Chiung Yao's company in Taiwan (in conjunction with China Television) and Hunan Broadcasting System (HBS) in Mainland China, unexpectedly became the most watched show in Greater China. In the mainland it received up to 54% of audience shares, a rating record bested only by Season 2 (1999), which reached 65%. Season 3 (2003) was co-produced with a Hong Kong company and suffered backlash in popularity, having replaced most of the original cast.[1][2][3]

The series won Best Television Series and Best Actress (Zhao Wei) at the 17th Golden Eagle Awards in 1999 and went on to become hits in other Asian countries. Considered the most commercially successful television series in Chinese history,[4] it not only permanently established HBS as China's second largest network,[5] but also made previously little-known cast members huge teen idols. More than 15 years after Season 1, the actress trio of Zhao, Ruby Lin and Fan Bingbing still count among the biggest names in Chinese-language entertainment.[6]

In 2011, HBS produced a remake with a rewritten screenplay from Chiung Yao. Lin made a cameo appearance.


After a successful writing career which saw many of her works adapted into films and television, Taiwanese romance novelist Chiung Yao and her husband Ping Hsin-tao (平鑫濤) established Yi-jen Communications and Media Limited (怡人傳播公司) in 1985 to produce television dramas. (The company later transferred to Chiung Yao's son Chen Chung-wei 陳中維 and daughter-in-law Ho Hsiu-chiung 何琇瓊.) In 1987, Taiwan's government allowed visits to Mainland China for the first time since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. In her first trip in 1988, Chiung Yao became friends with Ouyang Changlin (欧阳常林), then a reporter working for Hunan Broadcasting System (HBS), who encouraged her to start producing dramas in Mainland China due to more diverse landscape and cheaper labor cost.[5]

In 1989, Chiung Yao began filming for the first time in Mainland China in Changsha, Hunan, assisted by HBS and Beijing Television (BTV). Most actors, equipment and production crew came from Taiwan, while the Chinese stations produced chiefly cheap labor (such as extra actors) in exchange for broadcasting rights in the mainland.[5] Being the first Taiwanese television production assisted by Mainland stations, the drama Wanjun (婉君) ran into many problems with Taiwan's government. However, as years go by, restrictions in Taiwan became less and Chiung Yao began to use more and more Mainland actors and crew members in her productions, such as director Li Ping (李平). The sophistication and quality of China's television production also improved dramatically in the 1990s during the Chinese economic reform, while the market also began to surpass Taiwan's as the economy became more market-oriented. By 1992, HBS was no longer just a collaborator in Chiung Yao's productions but a financial partner and a co-producer.[5][7]

In 1995, Ouyang became the station head of HBS. As Chiung Yao had an agreement with Taiwan's China Television (CTV) to produce 2 dramas for CTV for 1998, Ouyang and Chiung Yao decided to produce them together. The first drama, Tears in Heaven (蒼天有淚), featured a more established cast of Jiang Qinqin, Vincent Chiao, Athena Chu, Chen Chao-jung and Deng Jie and was anticipated to be more successful, drawing considerable resources from the companies. The second drama of the year was thus left with a limited budget.[8]

In 1997, during a tour of Beijing, Chiung Yao passed Gongzhufen (literally "Princess's Tomb"). She was told of the story behind the place: according to popular legends, the Qianlong Emperor had adopted a daughter from the commoners population; she was buried there as she was not deemed fit to be buried with the other Manchu princesses. Nothing else was known about her.[9] From this legend, Chiung Yao decided to write Princess Returning Pearl as the second drama series.

Cast and characters[edit]

Recurring characters[edit]

Character Season 1[10] Season 2[11] Season 3[12]
Xiaoyanzi (小燕子) Zhao Wei Huang Yi
Xia Ziwei (夏紫薇) Ruby Lin Ma Yili
Yongqi (永琪) Alec Su Leo Ku
Fu Erkang (福爾康) Zhou Jie
Jinsuo (金瑣) Fan Bingbing
Qianlong Emperor (乾隆皇帝) Zhang Tielin Ti Lung
the empress Dai Chunrong Jiang Lili
Consort Ling (令妃) Zhao Lijuan Chen Li
Wet-Nurse Rong (容嬷嬷) Li Mingqi Qiao Chen
Liu Qing (柳青) Lu Shiyu
Liu Hong (柳紅) Chen Ying
Fu Lun (福倫) Wen Haibo
Fu Lun's wife Liu Fang
Xiaodengzi (小鄧子) Xue Yan Zhai Yujia
Xiaozhuozi (小卓子) Li Nan Liu Wei Zhang Tong
Mingyue (明月) Yu Mengjie Gong Yan
Caixia (彩霞) Liu Fangyu Li Bingqiao Du Minhe
the empress dowager Zhao Minfen
Qing'er (晴兒) Wang Yan
Xiao Jian (簫劍) Zhu Hongjia Huang Xiaoming
Wet-Nurse Gui (桂嬷嬷) Zhai Yuerong Zhou Guiyun

Other characters[edit]

Season 1 only
  • Ruby Lin as Xia Yuhe
  • Chen Chih-peng as Fu Ertai
  • Zhang Heng as Princess Saiya
  • Liu Dan as Ji Xiaolan
  • Zhang Wei as Fuheng
  • You Long as E Min
  • Liu Wei as Liang Tinggui
  • Wang Yi as Baleben
  • Miao Haojun as Saiwei
  • Zhu Jinglong as Saiguang
  • Ai Yang as Dongxue
  • Dong Wei as Lamei
  • Yang Dong as Cailian
  • Zheng Jiaxin as Du Ruolan
Season 2 only
  • Liu Dan as Hanxiang
  • Mou Fengbin as Mengdan
Season 3 only


In the mid-1990s, agent Lee Ching-ping (李靜平) working for Chiung Yao was in Beijing scouting for prospective actors when a referrer sent her a tape of the obscure 1995 Chinese drama Adventures of Sisters in Beijing (姐姐妹妹闯北京). The actress that was recommended did not leave much of an impression, but another actress "with big eyes" caught Lee's attention. Eventually Lee found the big-eyed girl named Zhao Wei, who in 1997 was a 21-year-old sophomore in the Performing Institute of Beijing Film Academy. Chiung Yao also was impressed and decided to cast Zhao Wei in the role of Xia Ziwei, after reaching an agreement with her school. Meanwhile, Taiwanese actress Lee Ting-yi (李婷宜) was chosen to portray Xiaoyanzi.[13] However, about a week before filming was scheduled to begin, Lee Ching-ping was informed that Lee Ting-yi could not participate in the project as it conflicted with a film of hers. Since there was not enough time to find other actors, the company wanted to know whether Zhao, already provided with the script and asked to memorize Ziwei's lines, would be willing to portray Xiaoyanzi instead. As Lee Ching-ping remembered in 2007:[14]

I quite nervously called her and tried to soften my words, I was thinking, how do I make her receptive and not hurt her (feelings)?... Once (I) finished, she screamed. I thought she was upset, so I asked her, "what's wrong?" She said, "(I'm) ecstatic!" As soon as she started reading the script, she fell in love with that character (Xiaoyanzi). But she had been afraid to mention it, probably embarrassed as well, (as) she was still a student.

Other reshuffling was also in order. After considering 16-year-old Fan Bingbing (eventually cast as Jinsuo),[15] the company settled on 21-year-old Ruby Lin, originally cast as Princess Saiya, to portray Ziwei. (Zhao's classmate in Beijing Film Academy, Zhang Heng 张恒, became Saiya.) Lin was under contract with Chiung Yao's company and better known (though by no means famous) particularly in her native Taiwan. However, after a few days of filming, sponsors did not find her beautiful and wanted her replaced. Her return flight to Taiwan was bought and her replacement had arrived on the set. (The actress set to replace her, Zheng Zefan 郑泽凡, was also Zhao's classmate. She was eventually cast as the minor character Du Ruolan.) With the Taiwanese director Sun Shu-pei (孫樹培) predicting "Ruby Lin will be very popular one day" and insisting on keeping Lin,[8] Lin was at the end allowed to stay, but those difficult days drew her closer to Zhao, who took her around in Beijing in an effort to cheer her up.[16][17][18][note 2]

With the exception of former The Little Tigers members Alec Su and Chen Chih-peng (陳志朋) from Taiwan[note 3] — neither with much acting experience — and Zhang Tielin (a teen idol in China in the late 1970s), all of the Season 1 & 2 cast members were considered little-known or unknown before the series. Most were film school students in Mainland China. Even the older actors had limited television experiences; for example Dai Chunrong was a qinqiang actress who had only 1 television credit, but was chosen because in that series (Han Gong Fei Yan 汉宫飞燕) she also portrayed an empress married to Zhang Tielin's emperor.[note 4] In Season 1, the actors all made less than ¥20,000 per episode.[19]

Chiung Yao started writing the script in June 1997 at the same time actors started their auditions.[19][note 5] Chiung Yao invited Sun Shu-pei, who in 1993 defeated her in Taiwan's ratings charts with the highly-popular hit Justice Bao, to direct the drama. This was Sun's first series in the mainland.[8]


Filming began on 18 July 1997 in Beijing. Unable to afford the cost of filming inside the Forbidden City, most scenes were shot in Chengde Mountain Resort, Chengde, Hebei as well as Prince Gong Mansion, Beijing Grand View Garden, Miniature Garden of Old Beijing, and Beijing Film Studio in Beijing. Sun Shu-pei remembered being jealous of the large-budget Yongzheng Dynasty, filming next to them in Chengde.[8]

Featuring a very young cast, working hours were extremely long. According to Sun, "the actors normally got up at night to do the makeups and film all the way until it was too dark to see." Zhao Wei at the suggestion of her boyfriend had even considered quitting.[8] Remembered Li Mingqi (李明启), the oldest actor, in 2012:[20]

These kids were all very hardworking... (After) getting up in the morning, Zhao Wei would be the first to get makeup done, at 3:30 AM. I would be the last one for makeup, at 5 AM. Despite that, not a single one of these kids started memorizing their lines after arriving at the set. Everybody did their homework beforehand.

Filming concluded 5 months later.[19] Due to time constraints, some action scenes were not completed.[8]

A few cast members did not get along, especially Season 1 on-screen brothers Zhou Jie and Chen Chih-peng, who had at least one heated spat on the set. Zhou also had differences with Su.[21]

Season 2 began filming on 15 September 1998 with a much larger budget, owing to the unexpected success of Season 1.[8] Filming locations were still mainly in Beijing and Chengde, but also included Bashang Plateau, Inner Mongolia.[19] Unlike the "neglected" Season 1 where not a single outsider showed up to watch the filming,[15] Season 2's filming was extensively covered by the media.[8] Every morning, leaving the hotel was difficult for the cast members, as it was filled with fans, many from out of town.[5] Remembered Fan Bingbing of the madness in a 2004 memoir:[15]

Normally 1,000 or 2,000 people would gather in front of the Beijing Film Studio to ask for our signatures. From winter to summer, there would always be huge crowds surrounding the shooting area of the set. I would hear people yell out my name, "Fan Bingbing, Fan Bingbing..." When it was time to go to the W.C., five or six staff members had to protect us.

Season 3[edit]

While the first two seasons featured almost the same cast, most cast members declined the offer to star in another sequel. The Season 3 script was also delayed for a year because of Chiung Yao's personal matters. When it was finally ready, Zhao, Lin and Su (who had shot another Chiung Yao series together in Romance in the Rain) were in the process of filming other projects and could not participate. Zhou Jie was the only returning main actor. Season 3 began filming on 4 April 2002 in Beijing. Locations also included Yangzhou, Jiangsu and Guangzhou, Guangdong.[22]


Season 1 cast. (L-r): Zhang Tielin, Zhao Wei, Alec Su, Ruby Lin, Zhou Jie, and Fan Bingbing.

Season 1[edit]

In the year 1759, 17-year-old[note 6] Xia Ziwei and her maid Jinsuo travel from Jinan to the Qing Empire capital Beijing, in an effort to meet her father, the Qianlong Emperor, for the first time. Qianlong Emperor had a relationship with her mother Xia Yuhe during a trip to Daming Lake, Jinan 18 years ago, and Xia Yuhe had held the secret away from Ziwei until her recent death, before which she told Ziwei to seek her father. Unable to enter the Forbidden City, Ziwei and Jinsuo meet adventuress Xiaoyanzi, also 17, at a wedding. An orphan since a young age, Xiaoyanzi lives with siblings Liu Qing and Liu Hong in a dazayuan (residential compound). The two girls become sworn sisters, and Ziwei informs Xiaoyanzi of her mission.

Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei decide that going to the mountains during the emperor's hunting trip offers the best chance to meet him. As the climb proves too difficult for the frail Ziwei and Jinsuo, Ziwei gives Xiaoyanzi her mother's fan and painting, both gifts from the emperor, and sends Xiaoyanzi as her messenger. Xiaoyanzi successfully reaches the hunting grounds but is seriously wounded with an arrow by Yongqi, Qianlong Emperor's 5th son, during the hunt. Qianlong Emperor recognizes her items and mistakes the unconscious Xiaoyanzi for his and Xia Yuhe's daughter. Once Xiaoyanzi wakes up and recovers, she is given the title "Princess Huanzhu" ("Princess Returning Pearl"). Attempts to reveal the truth go unsuccessfully, and she also realizes that she may be charged with deceiving the emperor — an automatic death sentence — if the truth comes out.

One day, Ziwei sees Xiaoyanzi parading the streets in a sedan chair as a princess and believes Xiaoyanzi has deceived her. She chases after the sedan chair, causing a commotion, and gets beaten by soldiers. Fu Erkang, one of the emperor's bodyguards, rescues her and learns of her story. Afterwards, Ziwei and Jinsuo begin to live at the Fu household as Erkang and Ziwei gradually begin to fall in love.

Meanwhile, Yongqi, Fu Erkang and his brother Fu Ertai sneak Xiaoyanzi out of the Forbidden City to reunite her with Ziwei, who kindly forgives her. Not wanting to risk Xiaoyanzi's life, Ziwei is willing to keep the secret and give up claims to princess. However, as Erkang is the son of minister Fu Lun, they cannot marry as long as she is only a commoner. The gang decide the best way to reveal the secret to the emperor is to bring Ziwei and Jinsuo into the Forbidden City as imperial maids. In the palaces, Ziwei quickly attracts the emperor's attention with her talents, intelligence, and compassion. This arouses the jealousy of the empress, who secretly has her stabbed with needles at the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. Ziwei nearly dies but is rescued by her friends. Qianlong Emperor becomes more impressed with Ziwei after this incident, and decides to take her as well as Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi on a private trip outside of Beijing, dressed as civilians.

During the trip, feelings between Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi, who is aware that she is not his sister, begin to rise. The trip is abruptly ended when a group of Dacheng Jiao sect members try to assassinate the emperor. Ziwei bravely shields the emperor from a knife before the assassins are all obliterated. Ziwei miraculously survives the stabbing, and the emperor decides to marry Ziwei as his concubine.

Meanwhile, Princess Saiya from Tibet has arrived in Beijing. She develops a crush on Erkang, and Qianlong Emperor decides to approve their marriage. As Ziwei and Erkang are deeply in love by this point, the gang decide to finally reveal Ziwei's secret. The emperor is shocked by the possibility that the girl he wanted to marry is in fact his daughter, and particularly angry that Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei, two girls he trust the most, have tricked him. Xiaoyanzi, Ziwei and Jinsuo are all imprisoned at the Imperial Clan Court to await interrogations.

On orders of the empress, Liang Tinggui, the man in charge of the Imperial Clan Court, tries to force the girls to sign a statement that their intentions were to murder the emperor. When they refuse, the trio are whipped harshly. Knowing that the three cannot survive long in such conditions, Yongqi, Erkang, Ertai and the Liu siblings risk their lives and break into the jail to free the girls. At the same time, Qianlong Emperor realizes how much he loves Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei and decides to release them, but is furious after discovering that they had already escaped.

After briefly on the run, the friends decide to return to the Forbidden City. Despite his original intention to behead them all, Qianlong Emperor is heartbroken to learn that the three girls were tortured in prison. He forgives all of them, beheads Liang Tinggui, and accepts both Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi as his daughters. He also orders the empress to be punished but relents after Ziwei pleads mercy on her behalf.

The last obstacle, the marriage proposal between Saiya and Erkang, is solved when Ertai courts Saiya and successfully wins her heart. The story concludes with a ceremony, during which Ziwei is proclaimed "Princess Mingzhu" ("Princess Bright Pearl"), and Qianlong Emperor announcing the engagements between Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi, Ziwei and Erkang, and Ertai and Saiya.

Season 2[edit]

This tower in Chengde Mountain Resort, Chengde, Hebei was used by the crew as a substitute of Shufangzhai (漱芳齋) in the Forbidden City, Beijing.
Prince Gong Mansion, Beijing, where some scenes were shot.

In the year 1760, the Uyghur leader Ali Khojam sent his daughter Hanxiang to become a concubine for the Qianlong Emperor. Hanxiang was born with a natural scent that attracts butterflies. She has long loved another man, Mengdan, whom she had unsuccessfully eloped with several times.

Xiaoyanzi, Ziwei, Yongqi, and Erkang meet Mengdan at the restaurant and hotel recently opened by Liu Qing and Liu Hong. There, they learned of the love story of Mengdan and Hanxiang. Ultimately, they decide to help Hanxiang escape the Forbidden City and escape with Mengdan.

With the empress dowager returning to the palace, the empress and Wet-Nurse Rong plot against Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei creating tension between them and empress dowager by continuously pointing out the imperfections of the two. empress dowager, being extremely traditional, takes an immediate disliking to Xiaoyanzi's lack of education and proper manners, while being extremely suspicious and dislikes to acknowledge Ziwei's status as her grand daughter as it is unclear if she is actually Qianlong's illegitimate child. Ziwei also had a near death experience at the torture of empress dowager after being accused of plotting to kill Qianlong after the empress had a voodoo type doll planted in her bedroom. Qing'er, Qianlong's niece and a favorite companion of empress dowager, ultimately figures out the doll could not have been made by Ziwei or Xiaoyanzi. Xiaoyanzi also temporarily escapes the palace where she is kept as a slave at in a Chess shop because she could not take the rigid rules and Yongqi repeatedly emphasizing the need to be more educated. She mistakes his good intentions as him being ashamed of her when he has all along loved her for who she is. Yongqi does this at the insistence of Qianlong as empress dowager has repeatedly threatened to end both Yongqi's and Erkang's respective engagement as she believed that Xiaoyanzi is not good enough to be Yongqi's wife and that Erkang is better paired with her favorite Qing'er, who is without doubt of royal descent. After Xiaoyanzi's return, Yongqi and the others plead to empress dowager to accept Xiaoyanzi for who she is and to not force the rigid rules on her for she can never meet the empress dowager's expectations for she is not a real Princess. empress dowager has no choice but to accept their engagement after Yongqi and Erkang both reveal that they would rather live as a commoner with Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei than remain as a Prince and a royal imperial guard.

Qing'er serves as a rival love interest between Erkang and Ziwei at empress dowager's insistence but despite Qing'er's actual feelings for Erkang, she does not want to get involved between Erkang and Ziwei after realizing that he would never be able to love her as well. She becomes good friends with Ziwei and ultimately helps Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi out of trouble when the empress dowager is furious at them for their various actions that does not meet in accordance with proper lady like manners.

After several attempts to resist Qianlong who was trying to force himself on her, Hanxiang accidentally cuts Emperor Qianlong's arm. When the empress dowager finds out about this, she secretly forces Hanxiang to drink poison as punishment. Xiaoyanzi, Yongqi, Ziwei, Jinsuo, and Erkang rush back but were not able to make it in time. Hanxiang is said to have died. Before she "dies", the aroma emitting from her body strengthens and tens of hundreds of butterflies fly to her side and circle the room. They leave and so does the aroma. In the end, Hanxiang is saved by the repeated attempts from Xiaoyanzi. She is ultimately saved by eating the life-saving medicine that her father gave her, in the case of an emergency. After this affair, Hanxiang loses her scent.

After Hanxiang's escape, the group lies to Qianlong that Hanxiang had turned into a butterfly and flew away. As a result of Wet-Nurse Rong and the empress plotting against Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei, they are subjected to torture at the hands of empress dowager and ultimately renounces Ziwei's identity as a Princess because of the empress paying off her aunt and uncle to create a story to deny her birthday, making it incompatible with the year Qianlong supposedly met Ziwei's mother. When Qianlong finds out the truth, he sends the five to jail. Yongqi escapes after pretends that he is sick. He later sentences Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei to death. Jinsuo sent to other country as a forced labor, while Erkang imprisoned for 15 years and his titles annulled. However, they eventually escape with help from their friends, especially Qing'er and Consort Ling. They decide to leave the Forbidden City permanently and travel to Dali. They are temporarily reunited with Mengdan and Hanxiang and witness their marital union before ultimately traveling to Dali separately. This is the last time these two characters appear in the series.

On the trip, they encounter many incidences where they lend a hand to save the weak such as stepping in to prevent the burning at the stake of a local girl who was impregnated out of wedlock and saved her life. On the road they encounter Qianlong's men who were intent on capturing them alive and to not hurt them at Qianlong's orders. Xiaoyanzi and Jinsuo were captured and taken away separately while Ziwei falls out of the carriage and temporarily loses her eyesight. Xiao Jian and Yongqi rescue Xiaoyanzi and are horrified to find a reclusive, terrified, and blind Ziwei while keeping the emotionally strained Erkang at arms length after being afraid of becoming a permanent burden to him. At Erkang's insistence and reassurance, Ziwei finally accepts the reality that she may be permanently blind and that she can still live a fulfilling life with him by her side. The five of them travel together to the next city while leaving behind markers for Liu Qing, Liu Hong, and Jinsuo as they search for doctors able to cure Ziwei's blindness. Erkang leaves Ziwei in the care of Xiaoyanzi temporarily as he goes on to ask for directions to the next doctor, Xiaoyanzi becomes preoccupied with a game of Chess going on at a nearby table in the middle of the street and completely forgets about the blind Ziwei. As a result, Ziwei is taken by a local thug and is sold to a local brothel while a frantic Erkang and a deeply repentant Xiaoyanzi search the streets. Ziwei is ultimately found with the help of Xiao Jian's connections in the city and was able to save herself with the threat of suicide as Erkang saves her just in time. Erkang forgives Xiaoyanzi at Ziwei's insistence and they are finally reunited with Jinsuo, Liu Qing and Liu Hong. Liu Qing and Liu Hong had traveled to rescue Jinsuo and ultimately hide in a rural village where Jinsuo was to recover from her injuries. Jinsuo and Liu Qing fall in love as he takes care of her and are later married after being reunited with the group.

Throughout this time, Qianlong realizes that he truly misses the presence of Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei and he reveals to Consort Ling that him sentencing them to death was ultimately out of pure rage and that in the end, Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei would indeed ultimately be spared had Erkang and Yongqi not rescued them. The group continues to run for their life as they mistake Qianlong's men as assassins when they were really sent on the orders of the empress. Erkang and Yongqi are hurt and Ziwei miraculously recovers her sight after being terrified at Erkang's near-death experience. Qianlong is horrified as he receives reports of Erkang and Yongqi getting hurt in the subsequent fights and Ziwei's blindness and finally sends Fulun to contact them as Erkang would ultimately listen to his father and believe that Qianlong has finally forgiven them and would like their safe return.

Along the way, they discover that the mysterious guy they met at Liu Qing and Liu Hong's restaurant who has helped them throughout this whole fugitive stage, Xiao Jian, is actually Xiaoyanzi's long lost brother after Yongqi's jealousy at his kindness to Xiaoyanzi becomes too overbearing as he mistakes it as him trying to steal Xiaoyanzi away. Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi had repeatedly argued throughout this time as Xiaoyanzi firmly believes that Yongqi was still hung up on being a Prince and could not accept her commoner ways while Yongqi would disagree with her actions and decisions. It is later revealed to Erkang that the reason Xiaoyanzi is an orphan is because of Qianlong. Xiaoyanzi's father was rallying against the government and later their whole family was sentenced to death as a result. In order to save Xiao Jian and Xiaoyanzi, they were sent away separately. Xiao Jian ultimately decides against revealing the truth to Xiaoyanzi and to give up the act of revenge at Erkang's insistence to preserve Xiaoyanzi's upbeat happiness, and to have Qianlong continue to love and adore her as his own daughter for she has always desired the love of a father.

After Fulun finds the group, they believe that Qianlong has forgiven them but unanimously decide to not return as their feelings towards Qianlong and the Forbidden City have changed. They desire the carefree life of commoners without the rigid rules and chaos that surrounded their life while living in the Forbidden City where Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei were particularly susceptible to punishment. In the end, the Emperor travels himself to convince them to return to the Forbidden City as he does not care if they helped Hanxiang escape, or if Ziwei is actually his daughter. There, he awards both Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi with a gold insignia. Each one can excuse them from 3 executions. empress dowager ultimately forgives Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi at the insistence of Qianlong and acknowledges them as her granddaughters. Qianlong and the empress dowager later discover the empress had been plotting against Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei sending assassins to kill them along with Erkang and Yongqi disguising it as the command of Qianlong. Qianlong is furious and commands both the empress and her maidservant, Wet-Nurse Rong, to be beheaded. However, Ziwei pulls out her gold insignia and uses up two pardons: one for Wet-Nurse Rong and one for the empress.

Because of this affair, Wet-Nurse Rong and the empress both grow appreciative of Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi. Afterwards, Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi, along with Ziwei and Erkang, are finally married.

Season 3[edit]

Season 3 cast. (L-r): Wang Yan, Huang Xiaoming, Leo Ku, Huang Yi, Zhou Jie and Ma Yili.

In the final installment, the story starts off with Xiaoyanzi accidentally losing a child. The empress dowager is now increasingly unhappy with Xiaoyanzi, believing she is not ladylike to be Yongqi's wife, particularly in carrying on the family line. At the same time, Qing'er and Xiaoyanzi's brother, Xiao Jian, were also in love. But empress dowager does not like Xiao Jian, especially after when she found that Xiaoyanzi and Xiao Jian's parent was killed by Qianlong. She thought that the sibling may want to kill Qianlong for revenge. Before she found out this fact, they went to Chen's family, where she met Zhihua. The Dowager liked Zhihua more than Xiaoyanzi, and wanted Zhihua to marry Yongqi. After returning to the imperial palace, the empress dowager made a plan to separate Yongqi and Xiaoyanzi, Qing'er and Xiao Jian. She threatens them that she would kill Xiaojian if Yongqi does not marry with Zhihua, and request that Zhihua should be wife and Xiaoyanzi should be the mistress. To save Xiaojian's life, they accepted Taihou's conditions and Xiaojian is sent away.

Yonqi married Zhihua, as the empress dowager requested. The empress dowager also send many servants to come and serve the couple. First, they pretended that they really love each other. However, Zhihua really loves Yongqi, and forces him to bathe with her, which angered Xiaoyanzi.

Although Yongqi gives in and marries Zhihua, Zhihua remain as a virgin after marrying Yongqi for quite a long time. But eventually, ErKang and Ziwei persuaded Xiaoyanzi that Zhihua has that right to have a child of Yongqi. Xiaoyanzi, being convinced forced Yongqi to enter Zhihua's room. Not long later, Zhihua was found pregnant.

Not much time after the news, both Yongqi and Erkang volunteered to go into war with Burma. In the war, when Erkang fights with the eighth 'prince', who he found that 'he', or rather 'she', was actually the eighth princess, Musha. Musha was attracted to Erkang, and planned to take him back to Burma. Musha disguised another Soldier to look like Erkang to make the Qings thought that Erkang was dead. After the war ended, Xiao Jian remained in YunNan, because he was suspicious about Erkang's death. Xiao Jian later discovered Erkang may not be dead and has been captured to Burma. Xiao Jian took the news back to Yongqi, Xiaoyanzi, Ziwei, Qing'er in Beijing. The Group travels to Burma in order to rescue Erkang. They initially ask Qianlong to let them go to Burma to rescue Erkang, but Qianlong doubts the news and refuses to let them go. They resolve to go to Burma on their own by sneaking out of the palace. Xiaoyanzi wants to stay in YunNan, and she convinces Yongqi to stay with her. Zhihua heard their conversation and got angry. Qianlong also asks to see the person who brought the news, Xiaojian, but Xiaojian refuses to see the emperor. Eventually, Xiaojian is forced to make an appearance, and Zhihua tells everything that she knows. She told Qianlong that Xiaojian and Xiaoyanzi's parents were killed by Qianlong. Xiao Jian attempt to kill Qianlong, who was rescued by Yongqi. Xiao Jian, raged wanted to kill Yongqi, but Xiaoyanzi pushes Xiao Jian out of the way. She convinces Xiao Jian that Yongqi that he was the love of her life. Qianlong, not knowing what to do, sent them all back to where they came from, and researched what really happen. Then, Qianlong called them over to tell them what really happened to Xiaoyanzi and Xiao Jian's father. After that, Qianlong decided to let them go. Yongqi also abandons Zhihua and her son, and live like a commoner with Xiaoyanzi, Qing'er and Xiao Jian. After finding Erkang, Xiao Jian and Qing'er was married. During their wedding, Xiaoyanzi announces that she was pregnant and decides to name her child Nan'er as Zhiwei first child was named Dong'er. Years later, Erkang and the emperor goes to visit them, they find that both couples are happy and they both have 4 children, and that Yongqi became a doctor. Zhihua is also not remarried and is living happily now. The season ends with both couples and their children living together with the emperor and Erkang, singing happily.


Nearly all of the lyrics for songs in Princess Pearl were written by the writer, Chiung Yao, while other composers contributed to the music.

Season 1[edit]

All lyrics written by Chiung Yao. 

No. Title Music Artist Length
1. "當" (Dāng, "When") Chuang Li-fan, Kuo Wen-tsung Power Station 04:47
2. "雨蝶" (Yǔ dié, "Rain Butterfly") Phil Chang Lee E-jun 03:50
3. "今天天氣好晴朗" (Jīntiān tiānqì hǎo qínglǎng, "Today Is Sunny and Bright") Xu Jingxin Fang Qiong 01:53
4. "山水迢迢" (Shānshuǐ tiáotiáo, "Distance") Xu Jingxin Fang Qiong 03:00
5. "長相憶" (Chángxiàng yì, "Longing") Xu Jingxin Fang Qiong 03:02

Tú Quyên covered track 2 in Vietnamese as "Trong em tình vẫn sáng". Another cover is Hoàng Châu's "Đời em là cánh bướm".

Season 2[edit]

Track 3 has the same lyrics as Track 1 in Part I above.

All lyrics written by Chiung Yao. 

No. Title Music Artist Length
1. "自從有了你" (Zìcóng yǒu le nǐ, "Ever Since You Were Here") Tso Hung-yuen, Lu Cheng-huang Zhao Wei 03:26
2. "有一個姑娘" (Yǒu yī gè gūniang, "There Is a Girl") Lee Cheng-fan Zhao Wei 03:33
3. "不能和你分手" (Bùnéng hé nǐ fēnshǒu, "Can't Break Up with You") Tso Hung-yuen, Lu Cheng-huang Zhao Wei 04:34
4. "我們" (Wǒmen, "Us") Lu Cheng-huang Zhao Wei 04:00
5. "你是風兒我是沙" (Nǐ shì fēng'r, wǒ shì shā, "You're Wind and I'm Sand") Lu Cheng-huang Ruby Lin, Zhou Jie 04:42
6. "夢裡" (Mèng li, "In Dreams") Lee Cheng-fan Ruby Lin, Zhou Jie 04:52

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Event Category Recipient(s) Result
1998 Taiwan Television Box Office Top Celebrities Billboard Top Celebrity Zhao Wei Won-3rd place
1999 17th Golden Eagle Awards Best Television Series Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role Zhao Wei Won
1999 1999 RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards Outstanding Mandarin Song "You yige guniang"
Zhao Wei (performer)
Lee Cheng-fan (composer)
Chiung Yao (lycrist)
Won-Bronze Prize



Taiwan's China Television (CTV), which had a prior agreement with Chiung Yao's company, was the first channel to broadcast Season 1 on 28 April 1998. Average rating was very high at 12.1%, with the highest rating reaching 17%, prompting CTV to rerun it immediately afterwards on 1 June, which again "easily" topped the ratings charts. Zhao Wei, who went back to study at the Beijing Film Academy, remembered the first sign that her life might change was receiving "rooms upon rooms" of letters from Taiwan in her school dormitory.[16] On 18 March 1999, CTV broadcast Season 1 the third time in less than a year, and again it "unbelievably" topped the ratings at 5.6%. Season 1 brought NT$ 70 million to the station.[23] The much longer Season 2 was then broadcast right afterwards and reran immediately, continuing the "Returning Pearl" fever nonstop from March until 13 December 1999.[24]

In Mainland China, HBS initially had problems selling its broadcasting rights. Some stations had doubts on whether it would be successful since it was too different from the typical Chiung Yao tearjerkers.[5] When it was finally broadcast first on Beijing Television (BTV) in the Beijing area, average audience share was 44%. On HBS's own Hunan Television (HNTV) in Hunan it reached 54%. Season 2, first broadcast in June 1999 just like in Taiwan, had even better numbers, averaging more than 50% across the board, reaching as high as 65% on HNTV.[19] These numbers have never been challenged since.[25] Commercial returns were immense; copyrights in Mainland China were sold for ¥390,000/episode for Season 1 and ¥545,000/episode for Season 2.[5] BTV earned over ¥ 25 million from Season 2 commercials, whereas Shanghai Television (SHTV), with average ratings of 55% in Shanghai for Season 2, made over ¥ 40 million.[19] (In comparison, all actors made less than ¥20,000/episode for Season 1.)

In Hong Kong, Asia Television (ATV) relied on the series to beat rival TVB in prime time for the first time in history, with 58% of the audience share for the Season 2 finale in 1999.[26] TVB bought the rights for Season 3.

In Mongolia, ratings were so high that distributors showed the last 3 episodes of Season 1 in movie theaters.[8]

In South Korea, it became an unexpected hit on the small Gyeongin Television, achieving 4% at the Seoul National Capital Area according to Nielsen Korea.[27] Many Korean fans started to study Chinese.[28][29]

The series was also quite popular in Vietnam. In February 2001, before Romance in the Rain aired, Zhao Wei and Ruby Lin went to Ho Chi Minh City together where they visited an SOS Children's Village and sang at the "Xuân 2001" ("Spring 2001") concert.[30]

International broadcast[edit]

Premier year refers to Season 1.

Country Network Premiere Title
 Cambodia ព្រះនាងយេយេ (Preah Neang Ye Ye)
 China HBS 1998 还珠格格 (Huan Zhu Ge Ge)
 Hong Kong ATV 1999 還珠格格 (Waan Jyu Gaak Gaak)
 Indonesia Indosiar 1999 Putri Huan Zhu
 Japan Sun TV 2008 還珠姫 〜プリンセスのつくりかた〜 (Kanju Hime ~Purinsesu no Tsukuri Kata~)
 Macau 還珠格格 (Waan Jyu Gaak Gaak)
 Malaysia NTV7 1999 還珠格格 (Waan Jyu Gaak Gaak)
 Mongolia Хуанжу Гэг (Khuanju Geg)
 Philippines QTV 2008 My Fair Princess
 Singapore VV Drama 1999 还珠格格 (Huan Zhu Ge Ge)
 South Korea Gyeongin TV 2000 황제의 딸 (Hwangje-ui Ttal; "Emperor's Daughter")
 Taiwan CTV 1998 還珠格格 (Huan Zhu Ge Ge)
 Thailand Channel 3 1999 องค์หญิงกำมะลอ (Xngkh̒ h̄ỵing kảmalx)
 Vietnam VTV 1999 Hoàn Châu Cách Cách

English version[edit]

After a year of work, the English version of Season 1 has been fully dubbed at the Bang Zoom! Entertainment studio under director Wendee Lee in 2013. It is scheduled to be released by Rock Motion Picture Voice-Over Distribution Company. Xiaoyanzi ("Swallow") was translated as "Sparrow" while Ziwei ("Myrtle") was translated as "Rose".[31][32]

Voice actors:

Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter also stopped by the studio for satirical dubbing on some scenes, the result of which being aired on Conan in 2013.[33]


Hoàng Châu Các Các (2002)[edit]

In Vietnam, Season 1 was adapted into a 20-episode cải lương series titled Hoàng Châu Các Các, starring Phương Mai and Vũ Linh.[34]

New My Fair Princess (2011)[edit]

New My Fair Princess
Created by Chiung Yao
Developed by Li Hao
Written by Chiung Yao
Huang Su-yuan
Directed by Li Ping
Ting Yang-kuo
Presented by Ping Hsin-tao
Ouyang Changlin
He Zhu
Chen Tianqiao
Starring Li Sheng
Zhang Rui
Benjamin Schwartz
Hai Lu
Li Jiahang
Chiu Hsin-chih
Sheren Tang
Leanne Liu
Country of origin China
Original language(s) Mandarin
No. of episodes 98
Executive producer(s) Ho Hsiu-chiung
Liu Haiyan
Producer(s) Liu Xiangquan
Wei Wenbin
Zhang Huali
Hu Weijian
Original channel Hunan Television
Original run July 16, 2011 (2011-07-16) – September 8, 2011 (2011-09-08)

A 98-episode remake of the first series was filmed in June 2010, and aired in 2011.[35] Akin to the old version, the remake had 3 parts, but had more comedic elements than the original.[36] After airing in China, both critics and audiences have expressed disappointments with the casting and the script.[37]

The viewership was also much lower compared to the old version. Ratings for the remake version was 1.5% in mainland china, which was average for a Hunan Television show. In Taiwan, the rating was 0.7%, not only ranking last, but also the worst rating of a Chiung Yao television series in decades.[38][39]

The three parts are called:

  • Part 1 Flying Swallow (燕兒翩翩飛)
  • Part 2 Blowing Wind (風兒陣陣吹)
  • Part 3 Wandering People (人兒何處歸)


  • Li Sheng as Xiaoyanzi
  • Hai Lu as Xia Ziwei
  • Zhang Rui as Yongqi
  • Li Jiahang as Fu Erkang
  • Benjamin Schwartz as Benjamin
  • Chiu Hsin-chih as Qianlong Emperor
  • Sheren Tang as the empress
  • Leanne Liu as the empress dowager
  • Zhao Liying as Qing'er
  • Gao Ziqi as Xiao Jian
  • Sun Yaoqi as Jinsuo
  • Lu Hong as Fu Ertai
  • Fang Qingzhuo as Wet-Nurse Rong
  • Wang Jinduo as Liu Qing
  • Zhou Fang as Liu Hong
  • Liu Xiaoye as Consort Ling
  • Zhuang Qingning as Consort Yu
  • Madina Memet as Hanxiang
  • Zhang Danfeng as Merdan
  • Chai Biyun as Princess Saiya
  • Kan Qingzi as Socolo Xinrong
  • Liu Changwei as Chang Shou
  • Yu Yingying as Mingyue
  • Ma Xiangyi as Caixia
  • Qu Aohui as Xiaodengzi
  • Zhang Zhuowen as Xiaozhuozi
  • Lei Zhenyu as Fu Lun
  • Chen Huijuan as Fu Lun's wife
  • Xu Yazhou as Lang Shining
  • Gang Yi as Ji Xiaolan
  • Xing Hanqing as Fuheng
  • Yang Fengyu as E Min
  • Xie Zhongling as Cailian
  • Zang Jinsheng as Liang Tinggui
  • Nige Mutu as Ali Khojam
  • Yang Quanjing as Saiwei
  • Ye Dao as Saiguang
  • Li Xiaoyan as Wet-Nurse Gui
  • Ruby Lin as Xia Yuhe
  • Qin Lan as Du Xueyin

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In Vietnam, it's usually abbreviated as "HCCC".
  2. ^ In 2011, Zhao Wei posted on Sina Weibo — where she and Ruby Lin managed 2 of the most popular accounts — an old photo with them together and wrote: "On that day thought Ruby was going to leave the set of Pearl Princess, very sad!... Hope we both remember that moment!" Lin soon replied: "14 years... very grateful I had you with me on that day, during those days... Long live friendship!"
  3. ^ The third member of The Little Tigers, Nicky Wu was considered for the role of Fu Erkang, but he had to serve in the ROC military.
  4. ^ Interestingly, Dai Chunrong and Zhang Tielin would later become known as "the empress specialist" and "the emperor specialist" respectively for having portrayed so many empresses and emperors — over 10 each — in television after Princess Pearl.
  5. ^ For Princess Pearl, Chiung Yao wrote the television script before the novel series.
  6. ^ In East Asian age reckoning, 18 years old is closer to 16 or 17 in the Western age reckoning.


  1. ^ "《还珠3》被观众口水淹没 收视率奇高有人爱看". Sina. 20 August 2003. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  2. ^ "《还珠Ⅲ》7月播出 琼瑶大赞该剧拍得惊心动魄". Sohu. 19 June 2003. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  3. ^ 琼瑶:《还珠格格3》在台湾输给了一个社会现象, "Chiung Yao: My Fair Princess 3 lost in Taiwan",, July 22, 2003 (Chinese)
  4. ^ 瓊瑤電視戲劇風格的蛻變:《還珠格格》 ― 一個類型(genre)的分析
  5. ^ a b c d e f g 湖南制造(图)
  6. ^ 赵薇林心如范冰冰 看“还珠三姐妹”在娱乐圈的惊人实力
  7. ^ 檢視/開啟 - 國立臺灣師範大學
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i 还珠十年(图)
  9. ^ 公主坟琐记(下)
  10. ^ "还珠格格1". Sina. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  11. ^ "还珠格格2". Sina. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "还珠格格3". Sina. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  13. ^ 孙树培:演员做人很重要 对角色的选择也很重要
  14. ^ 访谈:赵薇靠500万发迹纯造谣 李静平指遭陷害
  15. ^ a b c 《情人范冰冰》
  16. ^ a b 赵薇:演《还珠格格》时差点换掉林心如
  17. ^ 林心如直面绯闻:退出演艺圈前不会结婚
  18. ^ 林心如曝还珠交恶内幕 不提周杰恳请放过赵薇(图)
  19. ^ a b c d e f 电视剧《还珠格格》市场化运作始末
  20. ^ 容嬷嬷李明启专访:林心如赵薇拍戏刻苦
  21. ^ "还珠帮"骂战
  22. ^ 《还珠3》明开机 导演李平:要和前两集有很大区别
  23. ^ "還珠奇蹟 三播又稱冠 格格也稱奇 中視淨賺七千萬". Liberty Times. 20 March 1999. 
  24. ^ 無線電視節目庫結果頁
  25. ^ "《还珠格格》重拍变80集 郑爽或将出演小燕子". Sohu. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  26. ^ "格格風摧毀慣性收視 亞視創歷史紀錄". Oriental Daily News. 31 July 1999. 
  27. ^ 중국어 열풍에 중국 드라마가 뜬다
  28. ^ 還珠格格是韓國偶像 亞洲週刊 February 11, 2007
  29. ^ 韩国人如何喜欢《还珠格格》 浙江在線 July 21, 2006.
  30. ^ Triệu Vy và Lâm Tâm Như đã tới Việt Nam
  31. ^ Wendee Lee is directing Return of the Pearl Princess
  32. ^ 還珠格格西洋版 文謅謅變美式英文
  33. ^ Conan & Andy Dub Over China's Most Popular Soap Opera - CONAN on TBS
  34. ^ Hoàng Châu Các Các : tuò̂ng cải lương dã sử
  35. ^ "新版《还珠格格》开机 林心如演紫薇的妈". 26 June 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  36. ^ "新《还珠格格》仍拍"三部曲"". 9 May 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  37. ^ 这是小燕子还是宋丹丹 新"还珠"开播九成观众念旧 武漢晚報 2011年07月18日
  38. ^ 《新还珠》台湾收视遇冷 网友称翻拍没必要 時光網 July 27, 2011
  39. ^ 剧情太熟主角陌生《新还珠》收视再挫 China Times July 28, 2011

External links[edit]