Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace

Ulanara Ruyi is the niece of the Empress and the childhood lover of Hongli, the fourth prince. She was initially chosen to be the third prince Hongshi’s difujin (official wife), but fell out of the bride selection. Hongli’s mother, Niohuru Zhenhuan, reveals to the Emperor that the Empress had killed the former Empress. Ruyi’s aunt, Empress Yixiu, is locked away and she is poisoned by Zhenhuan. Before Ruyi’s aunt dies, she tells Ruyi to become Hongli’s Empress. With the Ulanara clan in disgrace after Empress Yixiu falls out of favor with the Emperor, Ruyi (Zhou Xun) learns the politics of the harem. She faces the schemes of Fuca Langhua the Empress, and her underling Gao Xiyue and is framed for inducing multiple miscarriages.

Ruyi is eventually forced to reside in the Cold Palace and separated from the Emperor. There, she meets Ling Yunche, an imperial guard who helps her survive. She also finds out the bracelet that Empress Fuca Langhua gave her on her wedding day prevented her from having a child. In order to help Ruyi, her close friend Keliyete Hailan decides to win Qianlong’s favor and Ruyi is saved from the Cold Palace. After Gao Xiyue is exposed, she loses the favor of the Emperor. Ruyi approaches Gao Xiyue and tells her that the reason why she wasn’t able to have a child is because of the bracelet that Fuca Langhua gave her. Gao Xiyue is saddened and eventually dies in the snow, after exposing Fuca Langhua’s evil deeds to Emperor Qianlong. Xiyue’s servant causes Fuca Langhua’s son to die to comfort her owner. Fuca Langhua’s daughter, Jingse, is also married to a Mongol Prince after Empress Dowager Zhenhuan refused to send her daughter for heqin. After Fuca Langhua almost drowns, she succumbed to illness out of grief.

Gao Xiyue and Fuca Langhua’s downfall is actually the result of the scheming Jin Yuyan, a Korean woman in love with the King of Joseon. After Jin Yuyan’s plans are revealed, she dies heartbroken when the King of Joseon refused to recognize her due to her being adopted. Another consort, Su Luyun also lost Emperor Qianlong’s favor after she wanted her son to become the next Emperor; she and her son eventually succumb to illness. Consort Shu Yehenara Yihuan loves the Emperor, but set herself on fire after realizing the Emperor never wanted her to have his children due to her connection with his mother. Even after surviving multiple conspiracies at the hands of scheming concubines and successfully proving her innocence, Ruyi’s relationship with Qianlong (Wallace Huo) eventually becomes irreparable. She 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 favor 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 such as Hailan, Balin Meiruo, and Han Xiangjian, who work to take her down. Ling Yunche, who was Yanwan’s previous lover, tells Hailan about her endeavors and sacrifices himself to save Ruyi. Eventually, Wei Yanwan’s numerous evil deeds are exposed, and Qianlong delivers a stoic apology to Ruyi, knowing their relationship cannot be repaired. Ruyi eventually peacefully dies after suffering from tuberculosis, saddening the Emperor heavily and hauntingly. 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. Emperor Qianlong 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 with Emperor Emeritus Qianlong cutting a lock of his white hair and intertwining it with the lock of black 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 favorite plant, the green plum, blooms for the first time in decades.


Xun Zhou as Ula Nara Ruyi
Wallace Huo as Aisin Gioro Hongli
Janine Chun-Ning Chang as Haigiya Hailan
Youming Huang as Li Yu
Jia Liu as Yexin
Vivian Wu as Niohuru Zhenhuan
Hong Guo as Fujia
Chun Li as Wei Yanwan
Zhilei Xin as Jin Yuyan
Ke Hu as Su Lvyun
Qi Li as Sanbao
Chun Wang as Chunchan
Charisma Bai as Kexin
Xiaoyun Chen as Suoxin
Nan Xia as Lixin
Xiwen Cao as Chen Wanyin
Liangya Wang as Shunxin
Chao Jing as Ling Yunche
Xueming Jiang as Jinzhong
Jie Dong as Fuca Langhua
Chunxiao Min as Sulian
Huan Qi as Rong Pei
Wenkang Yuan as Jiang Yubin
Xiaocheng Wang as Lianxin