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Real-life Chinese Royalty and Their C-drama Counterparts

Watching Chinese historical dramas is a good way to add to your knowledge about Chinese history, but it’s best to remember that some filmmakers take artistic license and depict historical events and people in a different albeit creative manner.

Here are just some comparisons of how Chinese royalties are seen through history vs. their depiction on-screen:


Emperor Kang Xi

Kang Xi is the third emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty and the second Qing emperor to rule over China for 61 years from 1661 to 1722, making him the longest-reigning Chinese emperor in history.

Legend of the Dragon Pearl is a Chinese historical TV series that centers on the romance between the Emperor and Yi Huan, the last princess of the Ming Dynasty. The show stayed true to the real-life events of Emperor Kang Xi’s ascension to the throne at an early age. On the show, he deals with a tyrannical government that spies on him and aims to prevent him from regaining his rightful place as emperor.

Emperor Quianlong

Qianlong is the fourth Qing dynasty emperor. His father, Emperor Yongzheng, played matchmaker, leading him to bear real love for his childhood sweetheart, Empress Xiaoxianchun.  

This love for the empress is chronicled in Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace, a Chinese historical TV drama that depicts the marriage of Emperor Qianlong and the step-empress.


Empress Xiaoxianchun

Xiaoxianchun, also known as Lady Fucha, is known to be a highly respected and virtuous person, even praised, favored, and loved by the emperor.

In Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace, the series centered on her journey of becoming an empress, the struggles she had to overcome, and her genuine and undying love for the emperor Qianlong. The drama also depicts the personal lives, insecurities, and ambitious goals of the women in the harem.

Empress Wu Zetian

Wu Zetian is known to be one of the most controversial monarchs in Chinese history. Although she was admired for her beauty, political acumen, and tenacity, she was also manipulative, ruthless and murderous.

She is at the center of the Chinese TV drama, The Empress of China. It reflects the life of Chinese royalty during the 7th and 8th-century Tang dynasty through the female perspective of the empress.

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