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Born 1918
Beijing, China
Died 1997 (aged 78–79)
Beijing, China
Throne(s) claimed China
Pretend from 17 October 1967 – 1997
Monarchy abolished 1912
Last monarch Xuantong Emperor
Connection with Cousin
Royal House Aisin Gioro
Father Pucheng
Mother Jinggui
Spouse Magiya Jinglan
Zhang Yunfang
Children Hengzhen
Predecessor Xuantong Emperor
Chinese 毓嵒
(courtesy name)
Traditional Chinese 巖瑞
Simplified Chinese 岩瑞
Chinese 小瑞子

Yuyan (1918–1997), courtesy name Yanrui, nickname Xiaoruizi, was a Chinese calligrapher of Manchu descent. He was a member of the Aisin Gioro clan, the imperial clan of the Qing dynasty. He claimed that he was appointed by Puyi, the Last Emperor of China, as the heir to the throne. His claim is the subject of the travel adventure book The Empty Throne by British journalist Tony Scotland.

Early life[edit]

Born in Wangfujing, Beijing, Yuyan was the second son of Pucheng[disambiguation needed] (溥偁) and Jinggui (敬貴), a lady of the Fuca (富察) clan. His grandfather was Zailian (載濂; 1854–1917), a son of Yicong (1831–1889), the fifth son of the Daoguang Emperor. He was a distant cousin of Puyi, the Last Emperor.

In 1936, Yuyan was summoned by Puyi, who had been enthroned as the ruler of the puppet state Manchukuo in 1934 by the Empire of Japan, to join his imperial court in Changchun, Jilin. Yuyan was very close to Puyi, who called him "Xiaoruizi" (小瑞子; or "Little Rui").

Life in the People's Republic of China[edit]

After the fall of Manchukuo, Yuyan was arrested by the Russians and imprisoned from 1945 to 1950 near Khabarovsk in the Soviet Union's Far East Region along with Puyi. He was later sent back to China, where he was incarcerated in the Fushun War Criminals Management Centre in Liaoning from 1950 to 1957.

Yuyan was a pretender to the Chinese throne. He claimed that Puyi appointed him as heir when they were both imprisoned in Russia in 1950. In his autobiography, Puyi wrote only that he considered selecting Yuyan as his heir, but there were no official documents to support Yuyan's claim. Under a succession law adopted in 1937, Puyi's younger brother, Pujie, became next in line in succession to the throne.

Following his release from Fushun, Yuyan worked as a Chinese language teacher, and later in a haberdashery factory. He was arrested in 1959 and sent for hard labour at a public security detention centre near Beijing. Yuyan was arrested again in 1966 during the Cultural Revolution and sent to do hard labour in Shanxi. He was only released in 1979 and allowed to return to Beijing, where he became a road sweeper.

After release from prison[edit]

Yuyan was a calligrapher and poet. In 1987, he was appointed as a state consultant on the restoration of the Prince Gong Mansion in Beijing.

Yuyan is the main character in the book The Empty Throne: The Quest for an Imperial Heir in the People's Republic of China (1993) by the British journalist Tony Scotland. Scotland was searching for an heir to the imperial throne of China.


  • Elder sister: Yujuying (毓菊英), married Chen Yingsan (陳英三), son of Chen Zengshou (陳曾壽).
  • Spouses:
    • Magiya Jinglan (馬佳靜蘭), of Manchu descent, married Yuyan in 1943.
    • Zhang Yunfang (張雲訪), married Yuyan after Magiya Jinglan died in 1948 in Tianjin.
  • Children:
    • Hengzhen (恆鎮; b. 1944), eldest son, born to Magiya Jinglan, married Tu Yanling (塗艷玲).
    • Hengkai (恆鎧; b. 1945), second son, born to Magiya Jinglan, married Liu Xiujuan (劉秀娟).
    • Hengjun (恆鈞; b. 1966), third son, born to Zhang Yunfang, married Fan Qin (范秦; b. 1971).
  • Grandchildren:
    • Hengxing (恆星; b. 1977), name also spelled as Hengxing (恆鍟), Hengzhen and Tu Yanling's son.
    • Jin Yinghui (金英輝; b. 1980), also named Qiqi (啟琪), Hengkai and Liu Xiujuan's son.
    • Jin Qitong (金啟桐; b. 29 October 1996), Hengjun and Fan Qin's daughter.


See also[edit]


Born: 1918 Died: 1997
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Xuantong Emperor
Emperor of China
October 17, 1967–1997
Reason for succession failure:
Qing dynasty abolished in 1912
Succeeded by