The floating life of the last empress of the Qing dynasty

Surely everyone knows the movie “The Last Emperor” about the life of Pu Yi – the last king of the Manchu Dynasty. Including Uyen Dung – Queen of Pho Nghi. Her life is a sad story that makes the next generation sigh.

Empress Wan Rong was the last empress of the Manchu Dynasty. She was born on November 13, 1906 in Beijing, to the Guobo Luo family and to her father, Vinh Nguyen, a high-ranking official of the imperial court. Her mother died shortly after giving birth and she was raised by her stepmother, Hang Huong, who was also her cousin’s aunt.

Uyen Dung grew up in the love of her father and stepmother. Her father was a free-spirited, liberal Manchu nobleman. Therefore, although there are two other sons in the family, Nhuan Luong (older brother) and Nhuan Ky (half-brother), Uyen Dung is still able to go to school and study fully.

The floating life of the last empress of the Qing dynasty
Uyen Dung grew up in a happy, complete family and enjoyed the most advanced education at that time. (Illustration).

She attended a school founded by the American Christian Church. During her teenage years, she had the opportunity to learn English, the piano, and especially, she was a big fan of jazz music. In addition, she was exposed to Western culture through music and painting. Simultaneously, at home, stepmother Hang Huong was also very attentive to teaching her traditional Chinese etiquette.

Little Uyen Dung gradually matures and possesses the rare talents and beauty of a girl who is absorbed with two cultures. When she reached the age of marriage, plus the influence of her father, she became one of the brightest “candidates” for the position of Queen, the consort of King Pho Nghi at that time.

At the age of 18, Uyen Dung was married to King Pho Nghi. At that time, the Qing court had fallen and the royal family was just a puppet. However, they still retain the title and certain other privileges; One of those privileges is to hold a wedding ceremony in the Forbidden City. Therefore, on November 30, 1922, Wanrong officially became the Empress of the Qing Dynasty.

The floating life of the last empress of the Qing dynasty
At the age of 18, Uyen Dung was chosen to become the Empress of King Pho Nghi. (Illustration).

This is purely an arranged marriage. Pu Yi was given a bunch of pictures of the beautiful ladies to choose the one he liked the most. However, the young king had many difficulties in choosing because the image quality at that time was still very bad. At first, he chose Van Tu’s photo for the post; However, at that time Van Tu was only 12 years old, so the powerful people in the palace were Thuan Prince Tai Phong, Kinh Y Hoang Quy consort, Vinh Hue Hoang Quy consort and Doan Khang Hoang Thai consort all objected.

Instead, they suggested to the young king to choose Uyen Dung – a girl who was just older, mature and had a family background that was suitable for two mothers, while her father was a high-ranking official in the court. .

To prepare for the royal wedding, Uyen Dung must enter the palace and learn a lot of rules. Those lessons were so harsh and difficult that the young girl burst into tears many times. And it seems that this melancholy is a harbinger of storms that are about to fall in the life of the future Queen.

The floating life of the last empress of the Qing dynasty
The young queen had to learn a lot of court rules. The pressure of this was so great that many times the young girl burst into tears. (Illustration).

Wan Rong and Pu Yi’s wedding took place on November 30, 1922; However, unlike other empresses who were brought into the Forbidden City through the main gate of Dai Thanh Mon, Uyen Dung had to go through the side gate, which is Dong Hoa gate, proving that the Empress at this time no longer kept her dignity. like before.

Despite the decline in fame and prestige, Uyen Dung still had to fulfill and obey the royal rituals and royal lifestyle in the Forbidden City. In addition to being summoned by the king, Uyen Dung often reads books, novels, practices the piano and welcomes family guests. According to some accounts, Uyen Dung during this time showed signs of mental illness and had to be treated with opiates. Therefore, Pu Nghi allowed her to use opium and gradually she became addicted, especially smoking tobaco – a heavy tobacco.

In 1924, Phung Ngoc Tuong pressured and forced Pho Nghi and Uyen Dung to move out of the Forbidden City. So they moved to Tianjin, in a small village and under the control of the Japanese army. Here, she was given the English name Elizabeth by Puyi to match Puyi’s English name Henry. In 1930, Pu Yi became the puppet Emperor set up by the Japanese and from here on, their lives were extremely tightly controlled.

The floating life of the last empress of the Qing dynasty
In 1924, Wan Rong followed Pu Yi from the Forbidden City to Tianjin and again became the Empress of the puppet court of Manchuria. (Illustration).

It can be seen that Uyen Dung’s life was influenced by many political forces at that time. Her personal life was also not so smooth. The official husband, Emperor Puyi was unable to perform the normal “duty” of a man; Therefore, he was always very indifferent and cold to the Queen. In addition, during his time as a puppet emperor, Pu Yi also went on business trips many times, leaving Wan Rong alone.

Perhaps because she was too lonely, she had an affair with two of Pho Nghi’s aides, Ly The Ngoc and Ky Ke Trung ; even had an illegitimate child. This incident was discovered by the Japanese and Pu Yi was severely reprimanded. Due to his anger, Pu Yi threw the newborn baby into the furnace and then lied to Uyen Dung that he had given the baby to another couple to raise.

After learning the truth about what happened to her child, Wanrong goes insane. Her illness became more and more serious and fell into the road of addiction. She is often rambunctious and aloof from people.

The floating life of the last empress of the Qing dynasty
Her husband’s indifference and aloofness made Uyen Dung extremely lonely and empty. (Illustration).

During the years of 1945, Uyen Dung’s health deteriorated greatly due to the torture of drug hunger. She was constantly hallucinating and was occasionally beaten by the guards. Finally, on June 20, 1946, Empress Wanrong died of malnutrition and lack of opium. It is said that her body was buried in a mass grave; However, this has never been verified and until now, no one knows the exact resting place of this ill Queen.

The floating life of the last empress of the Qing dynasty
Her illness became more and more serious, especially after losing her newborn baby. (Illustration).

As for Pu Yi, after hearing the news of Wanrong’s death, he did not have the slightest pity. In his memoirs, he wrote, “I heard that she died in prison and the cause is unknown. However, it is not to mourn a person who did not know how to love and value herself. like that woman. She’s just a drug addict.”