Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

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Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace
Ruyi Royal Love.jpg
Also known asThe Legend of Ruyi
MandarinRúyì Zhuàn
Based onHou Gong Ru Yi Zhuan
by Liu Lianzi
Written byLiu Lianzi
Directed byWang Jun
Country of origin China
Original language(s)Mandarin
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes87
Executive producer(s)Huang Lan
Production location(s)
Production company(s)New Classics Media
Original networkTencent, Jiangsu Television, Dragon Television
First shown inChina
Original releaseAugust 20 (2018-08-20) –
October 15, 2018 (2018-10-15)

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace (Chinese: 如懿传; pinyin: Rúyì Zhuàn) is a 2018 Chinese television series based on novel Hou Gong Ru Yi Zhuan by Liu Lianzi. Starring Zhou Xun and Wallace Huo, the series chronicles the marriage of Qianlong Emperor and Hoifa-Nara, the Step Empress. It is the sequel to the critically acclaimed drama Empresses in the Palace.[1][2][3] It aired on Tencent Video starting 20 August to 15 October 2018;[4][5][6] during which it was streamed more than 15 billion times.[7] It later went on national broadcast and aired simultaneously on Jiangsu Television and Dragon Television from 25 December 2018.[8]

Despite receiving mixed reviews, the series eventually won acclaim for its exquisite props, lavish sets, affecting storyline and stellar cast and has a score of 7.4 points on Douban.


With the Ula Nara clan in disgrace after Empress Yixiu falls out of favour, Ruyi (Zhou Xun) learns the politics of the harem and steadily climbs up the ranks to become Empress. Even after surviving multiple conspiracies at the hands of scheming concubines and successfully proving her innocence, her relationship with Qianlong (Wallace Huo) eventually becomes irreparable. Ruyi eventually becomes disillusioned with her husband and the harsh reality of life in the Palace.

With the love and trust between them fading, Ruyi is put aside by Qianlong in favour of Wei Yanwan, who seeks to one day displace Ruyi as Empress. Wei Yanwan is eventually promoted to the rank of Imperial Noble Consort (one rank before Empress), but her ruthless and biased actions in managing the Emperor's harem create enemies amongst notable concubines, who work to take her down.

Eventually Wei Yanwan's numerous evil deeds are exposed, and Qianlong delivers a stoic apology to Ruyi, knowing their relationship cannot be repaired. Wei Yanwan is given a slow-acting and extremely painful poison, for which she must ingest the antidote on a regular basis to prolong her suffering. The Emperor and Empress Dowager, knowing that if Wei Yanwan lives until her son becomes emperor she will live a life of luxury, permit her the release of death.

The series ends as Emperor Emeritus Qianlong cuts his hair and intertwines it with the lock of hair that Ruyi cut decades earlier when she declared she no longer wanted to be his Empress. Qianlong dies with the two locks of hair in his hand as Ruyi's favourite plant blooms for the first time in decades.



Actor Character Residence Introduction
Zhou Xun Ula Nara Ruyi (乌拉那拉·如懿) Yanxi Palace
Yikun Palace
The Step Empress (继皇后)
Lady Qing (Ce fujin) → Consort Xian → Noble Lady Xian → Commoner → Consort Xian → Noble Consort Xian → Imperial Noble Consort → Empress → Empress Yikun

Come from the Ula Nara clan of Plain Yellow Banner, birth name is Qingying (青樱), niece of Empress Jingren Ula Nara Yixiu. She was his childhood friend and lover of Hongli, later become one of Qianlong's secondary wives. When Empress Jingren is disposed due to her crimes affected Qingying's standing in the palace so she have to make amends to Empress Dowager Chongqing.
Wanted to erase herself from the past, Qingying ask the Empress Dowager to give her a new name, to make a new start. The Empress Dowager then give her the name Ruyi; 如懿 , meaning 'Beautiful and quiet' (美好安靜), reminding her that she must be calm if she want to have a peaceful life in the palace.
After Hongli ascended to Emperor, become Emperor Qianlong, Ruyi granted the position of a consort. Due to events of the past, Ruyi is hated by other wives like Fuca Langhua, Gao Xiyue and Jin Yuyan. Often being targeted by their machinations, but she survived through her strength and determination, as well as with the help of her close friends, and rose up the ranks to become empress. Later on, due to many misunderstandings between her and the Emperor, mainly ploted by Wei Yanwan and Princess Hejing, their relationship is greatly strained.
The last hit to their relationship is at one of the emperor's tour to Southern China, when he tried to let a courtesan, Shui Linglong, to be a concubine in the harem. Disillusioned, Ruyi cut her hair, wanted to end the relationship between her and the emperor. This angered the emperor, punish the empress by put her into house arrest in Yikun Palace.
At the end, she revealed all of Wei Yanwan's wrongdoings to the emperor, but she refused to reconcile with him. She died not long after from tuberculosis. Her death caused great pain and guilt to Qianlong Emperor to the day he died.

Wallace Huo Aisin Gioro Hongli (爱新觉罗·弘历) Prince Bao Manor
Yangxin Palace
Qianlong Emperor (乾隆皇帝)
Prince Bao of the First Rank → Qianlong Emperor
Fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, who had a strained relationship with his foster mother Zhenhuan, the Empress Dowager Niohuru. A selfish and insecure ruler; his suspicious nature caused him to become distrustful of Ruyi despite her love for him. After learning the truth, he tries to reconcile with Ruyi but failed. He later have to face the pain after she died, desperately trying to find the memory of the woman he once truly loved.


The Harem[edit]

Actor Character Residence Introduction
Janine Chang[9][10] Keliyete Hailan (珂里叶特·海兰) Xianfu Palace
Yanxi Palace
Noble Consort Yu (愉贵妃)

Embroidery Lady → Lady Hai (Shu fujin) → First Class Female Attendant Hai → Noble Lady Hai → Concubine Yu → Consort Yu → Noble Consort Yu (posthumous)
Hailan was initially an embroidery lady in Qianlong's residence, until Ruyi helped her gain the title of Mistress. Gentle yet determined, she is a loyal friend and confidante of Ruyi. The mother of Yongqi, the Emperor's favorite son, Hailan is an exceptionally influential consort in the harem; which she made use of to deal with the consorts who stand in Ruyi's way.

Dong Jie[11] Fuca Langhua (富察·琅嬅) Changchun Palace Empress Xiaoxianchun (孝贤纯皇后)

Di fujin → Empress
Elegant and dignified, Langhua was a respected and virtuous Empress who served her role well. However, despite this, she envied Ruyi and her intimate relationship with the Emperor. Under the manipulations of Jin Yuyan, she became embroiled in the inner palace conflicts and collaborated with Gao Xiyue to harm Ruyi.
Her misguided actions eventually caused her relationship with the Emperor to deteriorate, and she died a grievanced woman.

Xin Zhilei[12] Jin Yuyan/Kim Ok-yeon (金玉妍/김옥연) Qixiang Palace Imperial Noble Consort Shujia (淑嘉皇贵妃)

Lady Jin (Shu fujin) → Noble Lady Jia → Concubine Jia → Consort Jia → Noble Consort Jia → Concubine Jia → Noble Lady Jia → Concubine Jia → Noble Consort Jia → Second Class Female Attendant Jin → Noble Consort Jia → Commoner → Imperial Noble Consort Shujia (posthumous)
An orphan that was taken in by a Joseon minister, Yuyan's main goal in life is to earn the Emperor's favor and bring honor to her tribe ato assist her real love, the "young master" who became the King of Joseon. Manipulative, cunning and shrewd, she is skilled in instigating conflicts between the concubines and is the main culprit behind many of the concubines’ deaths.
Her evil deeds were eventually revealed, and Qianlong granted her the posthumous title of Imperial Noble Consort Shujia (homophone of loser).

Tong Yao[13] Gao Xiyue (高晞月) Xianfu Palace Imperial Noble Consort Huixian (慧贤皇贵妃)

Lady Gao (Ce fujin) → Noble Consort Hui → Imperial Noble Consort Hui → Imperial Noble Consort Huixian (posthumous)
Due to her father's position as a highly ranked officer, Xiyue is arrogant and defiant. She hated Ruyi and chose to submit to the more powerful Empress Fuca, collaborating with her to plot against Ruyi. Due to her naivety, she was often goaded by the Empress' attendant, Sulian to commit many evil deeds in place of the Empress.
Xiyue was discarded by Langhua after she lost the Emperor's favour, and then discovered that the Empress was the one who caused her to be infertile. On her death bed, she exposed Langhua's evil deeds to Qianlong.

Li Chun[14] Wei Yanwan (卫嬿婉/魏嬿婉)[15] Yongshou Palace Empress Xiaoyichun (孝仪纯皇后)

Palace maid of Consort Chun → Palace Maid of the Royal Garden → Palace Maid of Consort Jia →Palace Maid of the Yangxin Palace→ Second Class Female Attendant Wei → First Class Female Attendant Wei → Noble Lady Ling → Concubine Ling → Consort Ling → Second Class Female Attendant Wei → Noble Lady Ling → Concubine Ling → Consort Ling → Noble Consort Ling → Imperial Noble Consort →Imperial Noble Cosort Lingyi (posthumous)
Yanwan was born a noble lady of the Yellow Banner, but was reduced to being a palace maid after her father was tried for treason. Her first love was Ling Yunche, but she abandoned him after Qianlong took notice of her (due to her close resemblance with Ruyi). Ambitious, cruel and treacherous, she sees Ruyi as her biggest foe, and would resort to all kinds of underhanded methods to climb up the ranks. Yanwan is responsible for the death of many imperial consorts, children, and Ruyi's ultimate demise.
Eventually, her evil deeds and past relationship with Ling Yunche were exposed to Qianlong, and she was poisoned to death.

Hu Ke[16] Su Lüyun (苏绿筠) Zhongcui Palace Imperial Noble Consort Chunhui (纯惠皇贵妃)

Lady Su (Shu fujin) → Concubine Chun → Consort Chun → Noble Consort Chun → Imperial Noble Consort
A naive woman who treated everyone with kindness, and was manipulated often. She loved her son dearly, and would do anything for him. She has a good relationship with Ruyi and Hailan since their days in Prince Bao Manor.
Lüyun lost Qianlong's favour when he found out she wanted to take the position of Empress for herself. She later died of illness.

He Hongshan[17] Bai Ruiji (白蕊姬) Yonghe Palace
Anhua Palace
Concubine Mei (玫嫔)

Musician of South Manor → Second Class Female Attendant Mei → First Class Female Attendant Mei → Noble Lady Mei → Concubine Mei
A yueqin/pipa player hailing from Suzhou, Ruiji was the first woman to be taken into inner palace after Qianlong's ascension. She was actually sent in by Zhenhuan to spy on Qianlong.
After Ruiji lost her child, her health gradually weakened and she eventually lost the Emperor's favor. She was manipulated into thinking her child was killed by Empress Fuca, and was used as a chesspiece by Jin Yuyan to cause the Empress' death.
When her identity was revealed, Ruiji was used as a scapegoat by Qianlong to weaken the Empress Dowager's control of the Harem. She died a grievanced death after realizing she took revenge on the wrong person.

Chen Haoyu[18] Yehe Nara Yihuan (叶赫那拉·意欢) Chuxiu Palace Consort Shu (舒妃)

Noble Lady Shu → Concubine Shu → Consort Shu
A talented lady of noble birth, Yihuan was recommended into the palace by the Empress Dowager. Despite being one of Zhenhuan's chess piece, she fell in love with first sight at Qianlong during one of his outings and is extremely dedicated to him. Straightforward and good-natured, Yihuan keeps herself out of the palace inner conflicts and is good friends with Ruyi.
Unbeknownst to her, Qianlong personally gave her medicine that would prevent her from bearing healthy children due to her affiliation with Zhenhuan. She became mentally unstable after her son died in infancy, and committed suicide soon after knowing Qianlong's true intention.

Zeng Yixuan[19] Socolun Aruo (索绰伦·阿箬) Qixiang Palace Concubine Shen (慎嫔)

Palace maid of Ruyi → Imperial palace maid → First Class Female Attendant Shen → Noble Lady Shen → Concubine Shen → Commoner
Originally a personal maid that entered Qianlong's residence as part of Ruyi's dowry, she secretly sided with the Empress and Gao Xiyue in an effort to climb up the ranks. Arrogant, superficial and sharp-tongued, she appeared to be favored by Qianlong but was actually used by him as a charade partner.
Aruo was eventually sent to the cold palace and committed suicide there.

Cao Xiwen[20] Chen Wanyin (陈婉茵) Zhongcui Palace Noble Consort Wan (婉贵妃)

Shu fujin → Second Class Female Attendant Wan → First Class Female Attendant Wan → Noble Lady Wan → Concubine Wan → Consort Wan → Noble Consort Wan (posthumous)
A timid lady who never formed cliques, and always kept to herself. She was not favoured, and chose to express her love for the Emperor through drawings. She has a good relationship with Ruyi. She unknowingly played a part in Qianlong and Ruyi's separation due to Wei Yanwan's manipulations.

Zhang Jianing Barin Meiruo (巴林·湄若) Chuxiu Palace Noble Consort Ying (颖贵妃)

Concubine Ying → Consort Ying → Noble Consort Ying
A spirited young lady who is of royal Mongol descent, and is described as the “Southern beauty” by Qianlong. She despised Wei Yanwan and Jin Yuyan, and ended up becoming good friends with Ruyi.

Liu Meitong[21] Bai'erguosishe (拜尔果斯氏) Xianfu Palace Concubine Ke (恪嫔)

Noble Lady Ke → Concubine Ke
A descendant of Mongolian royalty. She is close to Barin Meiruo and disliked Wei Yanwan.

Li Qin[22] Han Xiangjian (寒香见) Chengqian Palace
Baoyue Lobby
Consort Rong (容妃)

Noble Lady Rong → Concubine Rong → Consort Rong
A beautiful woman who was taken into the palace by General Zhaohui after her tribe was conquered by the Qing Dynasty. Xiangjian's only goal was to assassinate Qianlong in order to take revenge for her lover. She is on good terms with Ruyi, whom she is grateful toward.

Yu Yang[16] Lu Muping (陆沐萍) Jingyang Palace Imperial Noble Consort Qinggong (庆恭皇贵妃)

First Class Female Attendant Qing → Noble Lady Qing → Concubine Qing → Noble Lady Qing → Concubine Qing → Consort Qing → Noble Consort Qing → Imperial Noble Consort Qinggong (posthumous)
A daughter of the Deputy Minister from the Court of Sacrificial Worship, she was sent in by the Empress Dowager and acts as her spy.
She was set-up by the Emperor, causing her to lose the ability to bear a child. After falling out of favor, she chose to submit to Wei Yanwan.

Han Dantong[23] Huang Qiying (黄琦莹) Jingyang Palace
Yanxi Palace
Concubine Yi (仪嫔)

Personal maid of Langhua → Shu fujin → Noble Lady Yi → Concubine Yi (posthumous)
Originally a maid under Langhua, she was promoted to the position of Mistress after Qianlong took advantage of her.
Langhua and Xiyue despised Qiying for stealing the Emperor's affections, and caused her to miscarry. She was manipulated into believing that Ruyi was the culprit, and attempted to assassinate the latter when they were living in the same quarters.

Zhao Ke[16] Borjigit Eyinzhu (博尔济吉特·厄音珠) Yonghe Palace Consort Yu (豫妃)

Concubine Yu → Consort Yu
A descendant of Mongolian royalty, and an early favourite of Qianlong. However, she provides secret messages about politics for her people and intends to use the banned drug on Qianlong to increase his interest in bedroom affairs. She was under house arrest and cold-shouldered by Qianlong. Later to earn the Emperor's favor, she started coming up with lies, including framing Ruyi of having an affair with Ling Yunche.
She was sent to the torture chambers after she was found to have lied about Ruyi and Ling Yunche's affair.

Sun Wenting Lady Lin (林氏) Jingren Palace Noble Lady Gong (恭贵人)

First Class Female Attendant Gong → Noble Lady Gong
A lady of Mongol descent. She is close to Barin Meiruo, and hates Wei Yanwan.

Wang Mian Lady Sirin Gioro (西林覺羅氏) Jingren Palace First Class Female Attendant Xi (禧常在)
Zhao Ruoxi Xiu Liqin (秀丽琴) Jingyang Palace
Zhongcui Palace
First Class Female Attendant Xiu (秀常在)
Palace maid → Second Class Female Attendant Xiu → First Class Female Attendant Xiu
Zhu Jue Lady Socolun (索綽倫氏) Jingyang Palace First Class Female Attendant Rui (瑞常在)
Song Qinglin Lady Lu (陸氏) Jingyang Palace First Class Female Attendant Lu (柏常在)
Xia Yuxia Lady Kui (揆氏) Yonghe Palace First Class Female Attendant Kui (揆常在)
Lady → Second Class Female Attendant Kui → First Class Female Attendant Kui
Qu Rong Lady Ping (平氏) Yonghe Palace First Class Female Attendant Ping (平常在)
Huang Lulu Jingyang Palace First Class Female Attendant Bai (白常在)
Sun Wanting First Class Female Attendant Ning (宁常在)
Yang Wanyi First Class Female Attendant Wu (武常在)
Gao Rui First Class Female Attendant Bai
Jin Ning First Class Female Attendant Fu (福常在)

Imperial members of the Qing dynasty[edit]

Actor Character Residence Introduction
Zhang Fengyi[24] Aisin Gioro Yinzhen (爱新觉罗·胤禛) Yangxin Palace Yongzheng Emperor (雍正皇帝)
Father of Qianlong Emperor.
Joan Chen[25] Ula Nara Yixiu (乌拉那拉·宜修) Palace of Great Benevolence Empress Jingren (景仁宫皇后)
Former Empress of Yongzheng Emperor; Ruyi's aunt.
Vivian Wu[26] Niohuru Zhenhuan (钮祜禄·甄嬛) Yongshou Palace
Shoukang Palace
Cining Palace
Empress Dowager Chongqing (崇庆皇太后)
Foster mother of Qianlong Emperor.
Although she appeared to share a civil relationship with Qianlong, they are wary and suspicious of each other. In order to ensure that she continues to thrive in the inner court, she placed concubines that were subservient to her by Qianlong's side to spy on him.
Zhu Yan Dowager Concubine Ji (吉太嫔)
A disposed concubine who was banished to the Cold palace, where she met Ruyi and attempted to assassinate Zhenhuan.
Li Jie
Ma Qiyue (young)
Aisin Gioro Hongshi (爱新觉罗·弘时) Third son of Yongzheng Emperor; foster son of Yixiu.
He was stripped of his noble rank and banished from the palace after being suspected of treason.
Wang Xiao Aisin Gioro Hongzhou (爱新觉罗·弘昼) Prince He Manor Prince He of the First Rank (和亲王)
Fifth son of Yongzheng Emperor.
Tang Chengjing Lady Ujaku (吳扎庫氏) Prince He Manor Hongzhou's wife.
Xuan Lu[27] Aisin Gioro Hengchuo (爱新觉罗·恒娖) Elder Princess Duanshu (端淑長公主)
Yongzheng Emperor and Zhenhuan's elder daughter.
She was married to the Mongol clan since young.
Wang Herun[28] Aisin Gioro Hengti (爱新觉罗·恆媞) Elder Princess Roushu (柔淑長公主)
Yongzheng Emperor and Zhenhuan's younger daughter.
Ding Qiao
Wang Donghe (teen)
Ye Kaiwan (young)
Aisin Gioro Yonghuang (爱新觉罗·永璜) Prince Bao Manor
Yanxi Palace
Zhongcui Palace
Prince Ding Manor
Prince Ding'an of the First Rank (定安亲王)
Eldest prince, Ruyi's foster son (later Su Lüyun's).
Initially innocent and simple minded, he later grew to become ambitious and vie for the throne. He was instigated by Jin Yuyan into thinking the Empress killed his biological mother, the Imperial Noble Consort Zhemin, causing him to lose favor with the Emperor.
Ma Yanan Lady Ilari (伊拉里氏) Prince Ding Manor Yonghuang's wife.
Yu Yao Aisin Gioro Yonglian (爱新觉罗·永琏) Prince Bao Manor
Changchun Palace
Age Manor
Crown Prince Duanhui (端慧皇太子)
Second prince, Fuca Langhua's eldest son.
He died young due to weak health.
Guan Xueying
Wu Yuyu (teen)[29]
Liu Sitong (young)
Aisin Gioro Jingse (爱新觉罗·璟瑟) Changchun Palace
Third princess Manor
Princess Hejing of the First Rank (固倫和敬公主)
Third princess, Fuca Langhua's daughter.
Proud and eloquent, she looks down on all the imperial consorts due to her noble birth. She especially disliked Ruyi due to her rivalry with Langhua, and chose to side with Wei Yanwan. She was later married to a Mongol prince.
Cheng Xingyuan
Liu Zeyu (teen)
He Luanhui (young)
Aisin Gioro Yongzhang (爱新觉罗·永璋) Zhongcui Palace
Third prince manor
Prince Xun of the Second Rank (循郡王)
Third prince, Su Lüyun's eldest son.
An ambitious and calculative royal, he was goaded by Su Lüyun to compete for position of the Crown Prince. He lost favour with Qianlong after the death of Empress Fuca.
An Jie
Hu Xianxu (teen)[30]
Rong Zibin (young)
Aisin Gioro Yongcheng (爱新觉罗·永珹) Qixiang Palace
Prince Lü Manor
Prince Lü of the First Rank (履亲王)
Fourth prince, Jin Yuyan's eldest son.
He was initially favored, but lost Qianlong's trust after the Mulan Garden incident and was discovered of plotting for the position of Crown Prince. He was expelled from the palace and became the adoptive grandson of Yuntao, Qianlong's uncle, and eventually was conferred as the Prince Lüyi of the First Rank.
Tang Mengjia Lady Irgen Gioro (伊尔根觉罗氏) Prince Lü Manor Yongcheng's wife.
Qu Chuxiao[31]
Bian Cheng (teen)
Wuze Jinxi (young)
Aisin Gioro Yongqi (爱新觉罗·永琪) Yanxi Palace
Yikun Palace
Prince Rong Manor
Chonghua Palace
Prince Rong of the First Rank (荣亲王)
Fifth prince, Hailan's son.
Sensitive and intelligent, he was Qianlong's favourite son.
He distanced from Ruyi under the manipulations of Hu Yunjiao. He later died due to bone cellulitis.
Janice Wu[32] Hu Yunjiao (胡芸角) Prince Rong Manor Yongqi's concubine, Nursemaid Tian's daughter.
Yunjiao was manipuated by Wei Yanwan thinking that Ruyi caused the death of her mother. She was sent to Yongqi's side as a concubine, and sowed discord between Yongqi and Ruyi, which caused the Emperor to become suspicious of Ruyi.
Li Yiru Lady Sirin Gioro (西林觉罗氏) Prince Rong Manor Yongqi's wife.
Zhang Jinze
Zhou Jinshi (teen)
Chixu Xuanzhe (young)
Aisin Gioro Yongrong (爱新觉罗·永瑢) Zhongcui Palace Prince Shen
Sixth prince, Su Lüyun's younger son.
He Xinrui Aisin Gioro Jingyan (愛新覺羅·璟妍) Zhongcui Palace Princess Hejia of the Second Rank (和硕和嘉公主)
Fourth princess, Su Lüyun's daughter.
Ma Boquan
Ha Lin (young)
Aisin Gioro Yongxuan (爱新觉罗·永璇) Qixiang Palace
Age Manor
Shoukang Palace
Prince Yi of the First Rank (儀親王).
Eighth prince, Jin Yuyan's second son.
He was setup by Wei Yanwan, causing him to become crippled.
Dongli Wuyou
Zhang Yaoyang (young)
Aisin Gioro Yongxing (爱新觉罗·永瑆) Qixiang Palace
Shoukang Palace
Prince Cheng
Eleventh prince, Jin Yuyan's youngest son.
Xu Lingchen
Ye Shengtong (teen)
Lin Jingjie (young)
Aisin Gioro Yongji (爱新觉罗·永璂) Yikun Palace
Yanxi Palace
Twelfth prince, Ruyi's eldest son.
Lin Jingyi Aisin Gioro Jingsi (爱新觉罗·璟兕) Yikun Palace Princess Heyi of the First Rank (固倫和宜公主)
Fifth princess, Ruyi's daughter.
She was bitten by Jin Yuyan's dog, a setup by Wei Yanwan, causing her to be seriously injured and later passed away.
Jin Ziqi Aisin Gioro Jingyuan (爱新觉罗·璟妧) Yongshou Palace
Xianfu Palace
Princess Hejing of the First Rank (固伦和静公主)
Seventh princess, Wei Yanwan's eldest daughter.
She was raised by Barin Meiruo since birth, and believed Meiruo is her birth mother. She disliked Wei Yanwan, thinking that she harmed Ruyi.
Chen Yuan'er[33] Aisin Gioro Jingyun (爱新觉罗·璟妘) Yongshou Palace
Xiefang Palace
Princess Heke of the Second Rank(和硕和恪公主)
Ninth princess, Wei Yanwan's younger daughter.
She was separated from Wei Yanwan since birth and has a weak relationship with her birth mother.
Wei Zihan
Chen Xuetao (young)
Aisin Gioro Yongyan (愛新覺羅·永琰) Yongshou Palace
Xiefang Palace
Zhongcui Palace
Prince Jia Manor
Prince Jia of the First Rank (嘉亲王)
Fifteenth prince, Wei Yanwan's son.
He was later appointed the Crown Prince nearing the end of Qianlong's reign.
Tang Jiaze Qingyou (庆佑) Yikun Palace Son of Jingse.


Actor Character Introduction
Qin Yan Zhang Tingyu (张廷玉) Member of the Grand Council.
He disliked the Empress Dowager, and often goes against her opinions.
Jia Tinglong Fuca Fuheng (富察·傅恒) A senior officer and commander-in-chief. Brother of Fuca Langhua.
Gao Lancun Gao Bin (高斌) Qianlong's trusted minister. Gao Xiyue's father.
Wang Jinsong Ula Nara Na'erbu (那爾布) Left Minister. Ruyi's father.
Ma Weifu Liu Tongxun (劉統勛) Minister of the Eight Banners.
Huang Wei Niohuru Naqin (钮祜禄·讷亲) Minister of the Eight Banners. Close relative of Zhenhuan.
Zhang Xingzhe Zhao Hui (兆惠)
Wu Lihua Yue Zhongqi (岳钟琪)

Male servants[edit]

Actor Character Residence Introduction
Imperial guards, physicians and others
Jing Chao[34] Ling Yunche (凌云彻) N/A

Imperial guard of the cold palace → Imperial guard of Kunning Palace → Royal Lanling Imperial guard → Royal Imperial guard of 3rd rank → Slave → Royal imperial guard of 2nd rank → Royal imperial guard of 1st rank → Eunuch of Yikun Palace
Wei Yanwan's first love, Miaoqing's husband.
A loyal and empathetic man who helped Ruyi while she was banished to the cold palace. He gradually becomes attracted to Ruyi, and helped her through her most difficult times in the palace. He is later accused of having an affair with Ruyi, castrated and subsequently ordered to serve in Ruyi's palace as a form of humiliation. He was killed by Hailan when the latter realized he would pose a threat to Ruyi's position as the Empress.

Yuan Wenkang[16] Jiang Yubin (江与彬) N/A An imperial physician.
He is Suoxin's childhood sweetheart and later husband.
Meng Zhaozhong Zhao Jiuxiao (趙九霄) Kunning Palace An imperial guard.
Ling Yunche's good friend. He likes Lancui, and was threatened with Lancui's life by Wei Yanwan to frame Ruyi of harming the eight prince.
Wang Quanyou Qi Ru (齊汝) N/A Head imperial physician.
He secretly worked for the Empress Dowager behind Qianlong's back, causing Qianlong to be infuriated. He was killed under the orders of Qianlong, with his death disguised as an accidental drowning.
Ha Yingqun Imperial Astronomer (钦天监) N/A He collaborated with Wei Yanwan to setup Yihuan and Ruyi, causing the Emperor and Ruyi to be distanced. Following the incidents, he was chased out of the palace, and killed secretly by Chunchan.
Steven Thomas Boergadine Giuseppe Castiglione (郎世宁) N/A A royal painter.
Jin Song Li Jinzhu (李金柱) N/A A guard at the Cold Palace.
Wang Liusheng Physician Zhao (赵太医) N/A
Feng Bao Physician Bao (包太医) N/A
Wang Zhimin Physician Xu (许太医) N/A
Huang Ningsheng Physician Zhao (赵太医) N/A
Xu Zhiming Er Tao (二套) N/A
Shen Baoping Su Peisheng (蘇培盛) Yangxin Palace Personal attendant of Yongzheng.
Huang Ming[35] Li Yu (李玉) Yangxin Palace Deputy head attendant of Yangxin palace → Head attendant of Yangxin palace → Eunuch of Yuanming Garden → Head attendant of Yangxin Palace
Personal attendant of Qianlong.
He often assists Ruyi because she once lent him a helping hand. He likes Suoxin.
Hu Ming[36] Wang Qin (王钦) Yangxin Palace Head attendant of Yangxin Palace
Personal attendant of Qianlong.
He likes Lianxin and forced her into a marriage by agreeing to work for Fuca Langhua. He was often hostile towards Li Yu.
He was sentenced to death after his treatment toward Lianxin was exposed through an elaborate plan by Ruyi.
Jiang Xueming[16] Jinzhong (进忠) Yangxin Palace Attendant of Qianlong, Li Yu's disciple.
He collaborated with Wei Yanwan to bring down Ruyi, so that he can take over Li Yu's place.
Zhang Juju Jinbao (進保) Yangxin Palace Attendant of Qianlong, Li Yu's disciple.
Han Yu Xiao Linzi (小林子) Yangxin Palace Attendant of Qianlong.
He was bribed by Gao Xiyue to obtain information for Gao Bin.
Li Qi[37] San Bao (三宝) Yanxi Palace
Yikun Palace
Personal attendant of Ruyi.
Gao Weibo Xiao Fuzi (小福子) Yanxi Palace Attendant of Ruyi.
Chen Zhuo Wu Fu (五福) Yanxi Palace Attendant of Ruyi.
Zhong Weihua Cheng Han (成翰) Shoukang Palace
Cining Palace
Personal attendant of Zhenhuan.
He was sent by Langhua to keep an eye on Zhenhuan.
Ma Bo Zhao Yitai (赵一泰) Changchun Palace Personal attendant of Langhua.
Liu Zikai Qian Shuangxi (钱双喜) Xianfu Palace Personal attendant of Gao Xiyue.
Chen Muyi[38] Wang Chan (王蟾) Yongshou Palace Personal attendant of Wei Yanwan.
Wang Peidong Xiao Lizi (小栗子) Zhongcui Palace Attendant of Su Lüyun, later eunuch of the Study Room.
Yang Shuo Xu An (徐安) N/A Head Eunuch of the House of Respectful Affairs.
Yu Tong Qin Li (秦立) N/A Eunuch of the Internal Affairs Department.
Yang Yang Xiao Lüzi (小禄子) N/A Eunuch of the Imperial kitchen.
He was instructed by Langhua to frame Ruyi.
Zhang Shu Xiao Anzi (小安子) N/A Eunuch of the Internal Affairs Department.
He was instructed by Langhua to frame Ruyi.
A Xing Xiao Leizi (小磊子) Prince Rong Manor Personal attendant of Yongqi.
Chang Cheng Xiao Guizi (小贵子)
Wang Zhen Xiao Shunzi (小顺子)
Ma Xin
Li Pengwu
Xiao Lezi (小乐子)
Liu Xue Eunuch Ma (马公公) N/A

Female servants[edit]

Actor Character Residence Introduction
Chen Xiaoyun[39] Suoxin (惢心) Yanxi Palace
Yikun Palace
Personal attendant of Ruyi.
Observant and kind-hearted, she remained loyal to Ruyi through thick and thin. She likes Jiang Yubin and later gets married to him. She became disabled after Jin Yuyan put her through excessive torture.
Qi Huan[16] Rong Pei (容珮) Yikun Palace Personal attendant of Ruyi.
A capable and firm woman, she is very loyal toward Ruyi, she killed herself after Ruyi passed away.
Zheng Shuijing[40] Lingzhi (菱枝) Yikun Palace Attendant of Ruyi.
Chen Erjia Yunzhi (芸枝) Yikun Palace Attendant of Ruyi.
Li Linfei Shuizhi (水芝) Yanxi Palace Attendant of Ruyi.
Gong Xiaoxuan[16] Yuhu (毓瑚) Yangxin Palace Imperial palace maid.
Former personal attendant of Qianlong's birth mother and current attendant of Qianlong, she assists Qianlong in keeping an eye of the internal palace.
Guo Hong[41] Fujia (福珈) Shoukang Palace
Cining Palace
Personal attendant of Zhenhuan.
Zhang Yanyan Xiuxia (绣夏) Jingren Palace Personal attendant of Yixiu.
Min Chunxiao[42] Sulian (素練) Changchun Palace Personal attendant of Fuca Langhua.
She often helped Langhua plot against the other consorts behind her back. She was later killed by Zhenshu.
Wang Xiaocheng Lianxin (蓮心) Changchun Palace Personal attendant of Fuca Langhua.
She was married off to Wang Qin by the Empress in exchange for Wang Qin's loyalty.
Lianxin chose not to save Langhua when she fell into the waters, ultimately leading to Langhua's death. She committed suicide later out of guilt.
Liu Jia Yexin (叶心) Xianfu Palace
Yanxi Palace
Personal attendant of Hailan.
Zhang Huanhuan Xiangyun (香云) Xianfu Palace
Yanxi Palace
Attendant of Hailan.
She was instructed by Gao Xiyue to frame Hailan of stealing her charcoal.
Li Bingyi Zezhi (泽芝) Xianfu Palace
Yanxi Palace
Attendant of Ruyi, later sent to serve Hailan.
Xia Nan[16] Lixin (丽心) Qixiang Palace Personal attendant of Jin Yuyan.
Guo Yuanyuan Zhenshu/Jung Swuk (貞淑/정숙) Qixiang Palace Personal attendant of Jin Yuyan. A highly skilled healer from Joseon.
She was responsible for framing Ruyi of having an affair with Anji Bosang. After her plan was exposed, she was sent back to Joseon.
Zhou Xiaoqin[43] Palace maid Yan (妍宫女) Qixiang Palace Attendant of Jin Yuyan.
Sun Qianqian[44] Moxin (茉心) Xianfu Palace Personal attendant of Gao Xiyue.
After Gao Xiyue's death, she sought revenge for her by colluding with Bai Ruiji to pass on smallpox to the seventh prince, leading to his death.
Li Mengyang Xingxuan (星璇) Xianfu Palace Attendant of Gao Xiyue.
Wang Chun (王純) Chunchan (春婵) Yongshou Palace Personal attendant of Wei Yanwan.
Often the mastermind behind Wei Yanwan's schemes. She was scarred by the incident of Ling Yunche and Lancui, and later exposed Wei Yanwan's evil doings to the Emperor.
Yang Liu Lancui (瀾翠) Yongshou Palace Personal maid of Wei Yanwan.
She was used as a bait by Wei Yanwan to threaten Zhao Jiuxiao into harming the eighth prince.
Bai Lan[45] Kexin (可心) Zhongcui Palace Personal attendant of Su Lüyun.
Ding Liuyan Suyun (俗云) Yonghe Palace
Anhua Palace
Personal attendant of Bai Ruiji.
Shi Min Hexi (荷惜) Chuxiu Palace Personal attendant of Yihuan.
Zhang Xinying Xinyan (新燕) Qixiang Palace Personal attendant of Aruo.
Wang Jingya[46] Shunxin (顺心) Zhongcui Palace Personal attendant of Chen Wanyin.
Wang Xinwen Abao (阿宝) Chuxiu Palace Personal attendant of Barin Meiruo.
Zhang Menghan Xianfu Palace Personal maid of Kezhuzi.
Chen Mengxi Xipo (喜珀) Chengqian Palace
Baoyue Lobby
Personal attendant of Han Xiangjian.
Gao Dongyu Hali (哈丽) Chengqian Palace
Baoyue Lobby
Attendant of Han Xiangjian.
Zhang Xinyuan Guli (古丽) Chengqian Palace
Baoyue Lobby
Attendant of Han Xiangjian.
Ma Lan Jingyang Palace Personal attendant of Lu Muping.
Huang Wen[47] Huaixin (怀心) Jingyang Palace
Yanxi Palace
Personal attendant of Huang Qiying.
Zhao Jing Duoyun (朵云) Yonghe Palace Personal attendant of Eyinzhu.
Jin Xi Duoyan (朵颜) Yonghe Palace Personal attendant of Eyinzhu.
Tian Miao Nursemaid Tian (田嬷嬷) N/A Hu Yunjiao's mother.
She was bought over by Wei Yanwan and committed many evil deeds for her.


Actor Character Introduction
Wang Wei Sakda Miaoqian (萨克达·茂倩) Daughter of an official. She was bethrothed to Ling Yunche as his wife.
Due to her background as one of the lady of the eight banners, she looked down on Ling Yunche and did not have a good relationship with him. Due to her jealousy, she collaborated with Eyinzhu to accuse him of having an affair with Ruyi.
Yu Shaoqun Anji Bosang (安吉波桑) A senior monk.
He was framed by Jin Yuyan and was accused of having an affair with Ruyi.
Zhang Yuxi[32] Shui Linglong (水玲珑) A famous courtesan favored by Qianlong.
Li Guangjie Prince Yu (玉氐王爺) Prince of Joseon. Jin Yuyan's first love.
Fang Xiaoli Madame Na (那夫人) Ruyi's mother.
Cai Wenyan Madame Fuca (富察夫人) Langhua's mother.
Meng Xiu Madame Wei (卫夫人) Wei Yanwan's mother. A greedy and obnoxious woman.
She took the blame of harming Ruyi's children for Wei Yanwan, and was put to death.
Song Jiateng Zhaqi (扎齐) Hailan's nephew. A greedy and obnoxious man.
He was manipulated by Wei Yanwan to frame Hailan of harming Ruyi's children.
Xu Xiaoning Zuolu (佐禄) Wei Yanwan's younger brother.
Wu Rige Saisang Gendun (赛桑根敦) Ruler of Khorchin tribe. Eyinzhu's father.
Liu Jun Han Ati (寒阿提) Ruler of Han tribe. Han Xiangjian's father.
Wang Leifang Han Qi (寒企) Han Xiangjian's first love.
Liu Yupu Bai'erguosi (拜尔果斯) Kezhuzi's father.
Zhang Xiaolin Anduo (安多) Anji Bosang's disciple.
Huang Deyi Tian Jun (田俊) Nursemaid Tian's son, Hu Yunjiao's brother.
Fang Yuchen Yao'er (桃儿) Madame Wei's maid.



The series is directed by Wang Jun,[48] produced by Huang Lan,[49] and written by the author of the original novel Liu Lianzi.[50] The series also employed William Chang and Tongxun Chen as their overall style director,[51] Han Zhong as art director and Peng Xuejun as cinematography director.[52]


Wu Xuelan, also known as Liu Lianzi, started to write the original novel in 2011, and changed her work several times to achieve the best version in the next five years.[53]

New Classics Media picked up the series for a 90-episode season (later shortened to 87), and each episode cost approximately S$1.95 million, making it the most expensive television series in China.[54]


On January 14, 2016, it was announced that Zhou Xun will play the leading role of Hoifa-Nara, the Step Empress.[55] The role of Qianlong Emperor, the male lead, was announced to be portrayed by Wallace Huo on May 27.[56] On August 3, actors Janine Chang, Vivian Wu, Dong Jie, Tong Yao, Jing Chao, Xin Zhilei, Li Chun, Zeng Yixuan and Chen Haoyu were cast in major supporting roles for the drama.[57] Around 5,000 actors competed for roles in the drama.[58]


Shooting began on 23 August 2016 and took place in various locations including Hengdian World Studios, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, and Hangzhou.[59] The series wrapped up filming on May 5, 2017.[60]


1."Double Shadow (双影)" (Theme song (Ending theme episode 47 onwards))Yi JiayangDing Wei & Jim LeeA-mei & Sandy Lam 
2."Incense & Fleeting Years (沉香流年)" (Opening theme song (episode 1-46))Yi MingYi Ming & Wang YaoguangLei Jia 
3."Like the Fragrance of Plum Blossoms We Once Knew (梅香如故)" (Ending theme song (episode 1-38, 40-46))Lv JingyeChen ShimeiMao Buyi & Zhou Shen 
4."Things stay the same, but people have changed (人非物是)" (Opening theme (episode 47 onwards)) Chen ShimeiAsia Philharmonic Orchestra 
5."Worries (心事)" (Ending theme song (episode 39 only))Lv JingyeYan QingDeng Tongtian 


The series received mixed responses from viewers.

Many feel underwhelmed by the unaggressive heroine, who was not able to face off the villain consorts even in the second half of the drama, thus making her character design flawed and unconvincing. The drama was also criticized for its anti-climax story and depressive tone. Critics felt that it was ironic and unbelievable for the protagonist to pursue monogamy in a highly feudalistic context. The slow pacing in the first half of the drama was pointed out, with critics believing that the screenwriters neglecting a compact story-telling to flesh out the characters.[61]

The series has also received criticism over the age of the leading performers, with viewers saying they made unconvincing teenagers, and criticized the series' producers for not using younger actors to portray the lovestruck teens. Viewers were also divided over the lack of dubbing for Zhou Xun’s 15-year-old character, as they felt that her voice was “too raspy” and “mature” for a teenager.[62]

However there were also praises for the drama. Zhang Hanyue, a writer and critic, said “The show becomes more and more heart-tugging as the story goes deep". Many viewers agree that Ruyi bears many characteristics of a modern female. Vogue magazine commented that the drama actually recorded “the failure of a high-end girl” because what Ruyi had been pursuing was spiritual connections with her spouse; and such a pursuit represents the taste and ideal of the modern middle class.[63] Critics agree that the drama introduces a new light to and narrative of palace dramas, deviating from the existing patterns of treacherous harem games.[64] The drama won acclaim for its exquisite props, lavish sets and stellar cast.[65]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
24th Huading Awards Best Director Wang Jun Nominated [66]
Best Actor Wallace Huo Nominated
12th Tencent Video Star Awards Best Web Drama Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace Won [67]
Golden Bud - The Third Network Film And Television Festival Top 10 Web Drama Won [68]
Influence of Recreational Responsibilities Awards Web Drama of the Year Won [69]
2nd Asian Academy Creative Awards Best Leading Actress Zhou Xun Won [70]

International broadcast[edit]

On 10 June 2016, Fox Networks Group Asia (FNG) and Turner Broadcasting System Asia acquired global rights outside mainland China to the series.[71] It was the first epic period drama secured by FNG for markets outside China, and was carried by STAR Chinese Channel (SCC), the flagship Chinese general entertainment channel, starting 20 August 2018 in selected countries, Rerun on August 6, 2019 in All Countries For Return a Year.[72]

From 27 November 2018, it aired on Fox Taiwan. From 27 December 2018, it aired on Talentvision Canada. To date it has debuted in 18 countries and regions, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and Philippines.[73]

Region Network Dates Notes
 United States Fox Networks Group 20 August 2018 Dubbed with English
 Hong Kong and Southeast Asia Countries Star Chinese Channel 20 August - 18 December 2018 Rerun On 6 August, 2019 at 15:00 and Next Day 1:00 in All Countries
Vietnam Vietnam HTV7 1 September 2018 Dubbed With Vietnamese
 Taiwan Fox Taiwan 27 November 2018 Original Language
 Canada Talentvision Canada 27 December 2018 Dubbed with English or Chinese
 Japan WOWOW TV 29 May 2019
 Philippines GMA Network Coming Soon A Part Of GMA The Heart of Asia and Dubbed in Tagalog


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