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My Fair Princess

My Fair Princess (traditional Chinese title: 還珠格格, simplified Chinese title: 还珠格格, Huan Zhu Ge Ge), is a romantic period drama jointly produced by Yi Ren Communications Co. (Taiwan) and Hunan Broadcasting System (China). Season 1 was filmed in 1997, season 2 in 1998 and season 3 in 2003. The first season was aired in Taiwan by China Television (CTV) from April 28, 1998 to June 25, 1999.

My Fair Princess season 1 poster

“My Fair Princess” season 1 poster

Basic information

Traditional Chinese title: 還珠格格
Simplified Chinese title: 还珠格格
Phonetic title: Huan Zhu Ge Ge
English title: My Fair Princess
Language: Mandarin
Country: TW Taiwan / CN China
Runtime: 48 minutes
No. of episodes: 24 (season 1), 48 (season 2), 40 (season 3)
No. of seasons: 3
Genre: Romantic drama, Period drama
Director: Sun Shu-pei (season 1+2), Li Ping (season 2+3)
Scriptwriter: Chiung Yao
Producer: Ping Hsin-tao, Ho Hsiu-chiung, Wei Wenbin
Production company: Yi Ren Communications Co. (Taiwan), Hunan Broadcasting System (China)
Broadcast network: China Television (Taiwan)
Broadcast period: April 28, 1998 – June 25, 1999

Plot

Season 1

In the year 1759, 17-year-old Xia Ziwei and her maid Jinsuo travel from Jinan to the Qing Empire capital Beijing, in an effort to meet her father, the Qianlong Emperor, for the first time. Qianlong Emperor had a relationship with her mother Xia Yuhe during a trip to Daming Lake, Jinan 18 years ago, and Xia Yuhe had held the secret away from Ziwei until her recent death, before which she told Ziwei to seek her father. Unable to enter the Forbidden City, Ziwei and Jinsuo meet adventuress Xiaoyanzi, also 17, at a wedding. An orphan since a young age, Xiaoyanzi lives with siblings Liu Qing and Liu Hong in a dazayuan (residential compound). The two girls become sworn sisters, and Ziwei informs Xiaoyanzi of her mission.

Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei decide that going to the mountains during the emperor's hunting trip offers the best chance to meet him. As the climb proves too difficult for the frail Ziwei and Jinsuo, Ziwei gives Xiaoyanzi her mother's fan and painting, both gifts from the emperor, and sends Xiaoyanzi as her messenger. Xiaoyanzi successfully reaches the hunting grounds but is seriously wounded with an arrow by Yongqi, Qianlong Emperor's 5th son, during the hunt. Qianlong Emperor recognizes her items and mistakes the unconscious Xiaoyanzi for his and Xia Yuhe's daughter. Once Xiaoyanzi wakes up and recovers, she is given the title "Princess Huanzhu" ("Princess Returning Pearl"). Attempts to reveal the truth go unsuccessfully, and she also realizes that she may be charged with deceiving the emperor — an automatic death sentence — if the truth comes out.

One day, Ziwei sees Xiaoyanzi parading the streets in a sedan chair as a princess and believes Xiaoyanzi has deceived her. She chases after the sedan chair, causing a commotion, and gets beaten by soldiers. Fu Erkang, one of the emperor's bodyguards, rescues her and learns of her story. Afterwards, Ziwei and Jinsuo begin to live at the Fu household as Erkang and Ziwei gradually begin to fall in love.

Meanwhile, Yongqi, Fu Erkang and his brother Fu Ertai sneak Xiaoyanzi out of the Forbidden City to reunite her with Ziwei, who kindly forgives her. Not wanting to risk Xiaoyanzi's life, Ziwei is willing to keep the secret and give up claims to princess. However, as Erkang is the son of minister Fu Lun, they cannot marry as long as she is only a commoner. The gang decide the best way to reveal the secret to the emperor is to bring Ziwei and Jinsuo into the Forbidden City as imperial maids. In the palaces, Ziwei quickly attracts the emperor's attention with her talents, intelligence, and compassion. This arouses the jealousy of the empress, who secretly has her stabbed with needles at the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. Ziwei nearly dies but is rescued by her friends. Qianlong Emperor becomes more impressed with Ziwei after this incident, and decides to take her as well as Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi on a private trip outside of Beijing, dressed as civilians.

During the trip, feelings between Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi, who is aware that she is not his sister, begin to rise. The trip is abruptly ended when a group of Dacheng Jiao sect members try to assassinate the emperor. Ziwei bravely shields the emperor from a knife before the assassins are all obliterated. Ziwei miraculously survives the stabbing, and the emperor decides to marry Ziwei as his concubine.

Meanwhile, Princess Saiya from Tibet has arrived in Beijing. She develops a crush on Erkang, and Qianlong Emperor decides to approve their marriage. As Ziwei and Erkang are deeply in love by this point, the gang decide to finally reveal Ziwei's secret. The emperor is shocked by the possibility that the girl he wanted to marry is in fact his daughter, and particularly angry that Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei, two girls he trust the most, have tricked him. Xiaoyanzi, Ziwei and Jinsuo are all imprisoned at the Imperial Clan Court to await interrogations.

On orders of the empress, Liang Tinggui, the man in charge of the Imperial Clan Court, tries to force the girls to sign a statement that their intentions were to murder the emperor. When they refuse, the trio are whipped harshly. Knowing that the three cannot survive long in such conditions, Yongqi, Erkang, Ertai and the Liu siblings risk their lives and break into the jail to free the girls. At the same time, Qianlong Emperor realizes how much he loves Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei and decides to release them, but is furious after discovering that they had already escaped.

After briefly on the run, the friends decide to return to the Forbidden City. Despite his original intention to behead them all, Qianlong Emperor is heartbroken to learn that the three girls were tortured in prison. He forgives all of them, beheads Liang Tinggui, and accepts both Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi as his daughters. He also orders the empress to be punished but relents after Ziwei pleads mercy on her behalf.

The last obstacle, the marriage proposal between Saiya and Erkang, is solved when Ertai courts Saiya and successfully wins her heart. The story concludes with a ceremony, during which Ziwei is proclaimed "Princess Mingzhu" ("Princess Bright Pearl"), and Qianlong Emperor announcing the engagements between Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi, Ziwei and Erkang, and Ertai and Saiya.

A scene in My Fair Princess season 1

A scene in “My Fair Princess” season 1

Season 2

In the year 1760, the Uyghur leader Ali Khoja sent his daughter Hanxiang to become a concubine for the Qianlong Emperor. Hanxiang was born with a natural scent that attracts butterflies. She has long loved another man, Mengdan, whom she had unsuccessfully eloped with several times.

Xiaoyanzi, Ziwei, Yongqi, and Erkang meet Mengdan at the restaurant and hotel recently opened by Liu Qing and Liu Hong. There, they learned of the love story of Mengdan and Hanxiang. Ultimately, they decide to help Hanxiang escape the Forbidden City and escape with Mengdan.

With the empress dowager returning to the palace, the empress and Wet-Nurse Rong plot against Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei creating tension between them and empress dowager by continuously pointing out the imperfections of the two. The empress dowager, being extremely traditional, takes an immediate disliking to Xiaoyanzi's lack of education and proper manners, while being extremely suspicious and dislikes to acknowledge Ziwei's status as her grand daughter as it is unclear if she is actually Qianlong's illegitimate child. Ziwei also had a near death experience at the torture of empress dowager after being accused of plotting to kill Qianlong after the empress had a voodoo type doll planted in her bedroom. Qing'er, Qianlong's niece and a favorite companion of empress dowager, ultimately figures out the doll could not have been made by Ziwei or Xiaoyanzi. Xiaoyanzi also temporarily escapes the palace where she is kept as a slave in a Chess shop because she could not take the rigid rules and Yongqi repeatedly emphasizing the need to be more educated. She mistakes his good intentions as him being ashamed of her when he has all along loved her for who she is. Yongqi does this at the insistence of Qianlong as empress dowager has repeatedly threatened to end both Yongqi's and Erkang's respective engagement as she believed that Xiaoyanzi is not good enough to be Yongqi's wife and that Erkang is better paired with her favorite Qing'er, who is without doubt of royal descent. After Xiaoyanzi's return, Yongqi and the others plead to empress dowager to accept Xiaoyanzi for who she is and to not force the rigid rules on her for she can never meet the empress dowager's expectations for she is not a real Princess. The empress dowager has no choice but to accept their engagement after Yongqi and Erkang both reveal that they would rather live as a commoner with Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei than remain as a Prince and a royal imperial guard.

Qing'er serves as a rival love interest between Erkang and Ziwei at empress dowager's insistence but despite Qing'er's actual feelings for Erkang, she does not want to get involved between Erkang and Ziwei after realizing that he would never be able to love her as well. She becomes good friends with Ziwei and ultimately helps Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi out of trouble when the empress dowager is furious at them for their various actions that does not meet in accordance with proper lady like manners.

After several attempts to resist Qianlong who was trying to force himself on her, Hanxiang accidentally cuts Emperor Qianlong's arm. When the empress dowager finds out about this, she secretly forces Hanxiang to drink poison as punishment. Xiaoyanzi, Yongqi, Ziwei, Jinsuo, and Erkang rush back but were not able to make it in time. Hanxiang is said to have died. Before she "dies", the aroma emitting from her body strengthens and tens of hundreds of butterflies fly to her side and circle the room. They leave and so does the aroma. In the end, Hanxiang is saved by the repeated attempts from Xiaoyanzi. She is ultimately saved by eating the life-saving medicine that her father gave her, in the case of an emergency. After this affair, Hanxiang loses her scent.

After Hanxiang's escape, the group lies to Qianlong that Hanxiang had turned into a butterfly and flew away. As a result of Wet-Nurse Rong and the empress plotting against Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei, they are subjected to torture at the hands of empress dowager and ultimately renounces Ziwei's identity as a Princess because of the empress paying off her aunt and uncle to create a story to deny her birthday, making it incompatible with the year Qianlong supposedly met Ziwei's mother. When Qianlong finds out the truth, he sends the five to jail. Yongqi escapes after pretends that he is sick. Qianlong later sentences Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei to death. Jinsuo sent to other country as a forced labor, while Erkang imprisoned for 15 years and his titles annulled. However, they eventually escape with help from their friends, especially Qing'er and Consort Ling. They decide to leave the Forbidden City permanently and travel to Dali. They are temporarily reunited with Mengdan and Hanxiang and witness their marital union before ultimately traveling to Dali separately. This is the last time these two characters appear in the series.

On the trip, they encounter many incidences where they lend a hand to save the weak such as stepping in to prevent the burning at the stake of a local girl who was impregnated out of wedlock and saved her life. On the road they encounter Qianlong's men who were intent on capturing them alive and to not hurt them at Qianlong's orders. Xiaoyanzi and Jinsuo were captured and taken away separately while Ziwei falls out of the carriage and temporarily loses her eyesight. Xiao Jian and Yongqi rescue Xiaoyanzi and are horrified to find a reclusive, terrified, and blind Ziwei while keeping the emotionally strained Erkang at arms length after being afraid of becoming a permanent burden to him. At Erkang's insistence and reassurance, Ziwei finally accepts the reality that she may be permanently blind and that she can still live a fulfilling life with him by her side. The five of them travel together to the next city while leaving behind markers for Liu Qing, Liu Hong, and Jinsuo as they search for doctors able to cure Ziwei's blindness. Erkang leaves Ziwei in the care of Xiaoyanzi temporarily as he goes on to ask for directions to the next doctor, Xiaoyanzi becomes preoccupied with a game of Chess going on at a nearby table in the middle of the street and completely forgets about the blind Ziwei. As a result, Ziwei is taken by a local thug and is sold to a local brothel while a frantic Erkang and a deeply repentant Xiaoyanzi search the streets. Ziwei is ultimately found with the help of Xiao Jian's connections in the city and was able to save herself with the threat of suicide as Erkang saves her just in time. Erkang forgives Xiaoyanzi at Ziwei's insistence and they are finally reunited with Jinsuo, Liu Qing and Liu Hong. Liu Qing and Liu Hong had traveled to rescue Jinsuo and ultimately hide in a rural village where Jinsuo was to recover from her injuries. Jinsuo and Liu Qing fall in love as he takes care of her and are later married after being reunited with the group.

Throughout this time, Qianlong realizes that he truly misses the presence of Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei and he reveals to Consort Ling that him sentencing them to death was ultimately out of pure rage and that in the end, Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei would indeed ultimately be spared had Erkang and Yongqi not rescued them. The group continues to run for their life as they mistake Qianlong's men as assassins when they were really sent on the orders of the empress. Erkang and Yongqi are hurt and Ziwei miraculously recovers her sight after being terrified at Erkang's near-death experience. Qianlong is horrified as he receives reports of Erkang and Yongqi getting hurt in the subsequent fights and Ziwei's blindness and finally sends Fulun to contact them as Erkang would ultimately listen to his father and believe that Qianlong has finally forgiven them and would like their safe return.

Along the way, they discover that the mysterious guy they met at Liu Qing and Liu Hong's restaurant who has helped them throughout this whole fugitive stage, Xiao Jian, is actually Xiaoyanzi's long lost brother after Yongqi's jealousy at his kindness to Xiaoyanzi becomes too overbearing as he mistakes it as him trying to steal Xiaoyanzi away. Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi had repeatedly argued throughout this time as Xiaoyanzi firmly believes that Yongqi was still hung up on being a Prince and could not accept her commoner ways while Yongqi would disagree with her actions and decisions. It is later revealed to Erkang that the reason Xiaoyanzi is an orphan is because of Qianlong. Xiaoyanzi's father was rallying against the government and later their whole family was sentenced to death as a result. In order to save Xiao Jian and Xiaoyanzi, they were sent away separately. Xiao Jian ultimately decides against revealing the truth to Xiaoyanzi and to give up the act of revenge at Erkang's insistence to preserve Xiaoyanzi's upbeat happiness, and to have Qianlong continue to love and adore her as his own daughter for she has always desired the love of a father.

After Fulun finds the group, they believe that Qianlong has forgiven them but unanimously decide to not return as their feelings towards Qianlong and the Forbidden City have changed. They desire the carefree life of commoners without the rigid rules and chaos that surrounded their life while living in the Forbidden City where Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei were particularly susceptible to punishment. In the end, the Emperor travels himself to convince them to return to the Forbidden City as he does not care if they helped Hanxiang escape, or if Ziwei is actually his daughter. There, he awards both Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi with a gold insignia. Each one can excuse them from 3 executions. The empress dowager ultimately forgives Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi at the insistence of Qianlong and acknowledges them as her granddaughters. Qianlong and the empress dowager later discover the empress had been plotting against Xiaoyanzi and Ziwei sending assassins to kill them along with Erkang and Yongqi disguising it as the command of Qianlong. Qianlong is furious and commands both the empress and her maidservant, Wet-Nurse Rong, to be beheaded. However, Ziwei pulls out her gold insignia and uses up two pardons: one for Wet-Nurse Rong and one for the empress.

Because of this affair, Wet-Nurse Rong and the empress both grow appreciative of Ziwei and Xiaoyanzi. Afterwards, Xiaoyanzi and Yongqi, along with Ziwei and Erkang, are finally married.

A scene in My Fair Princess season 2

A scene in “My Fair Princess” season 2

Cast

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