Which famous people have you outlived?

Princess Der Ling

Died when: 59 years 167 days
Star Sign: Gemini


Princess Der Ling "Princess" Der Ling (Chinese: 裕德齡, pinyin: Yù Délíng) (1885 – 1944) was a Hanjun bannerwoman, the daughter of (Chinese: 裕庚. Wade–Giles: Yu Keng. Pinyin: Yù Geng). Her father was a member of the Hanjun Plain White Banner Corps (正白旗), and according to his daughter he was a Lord. This is of some doubt. After serving as Chinese minister to Japan, he was appointed minister to the French Third Republic for four years in 1899. He was known for his progressive, reformist views; for his determination to educate his children, including the girls, in western schools, which was highly unusual in their generation; and for his unvarying support of the Empress Dowager Cixi. In 1905, Yü Keng died in Shanghai. Yü Keng's story is told in the movie . According to Der Ling's biographer, Der Ling's mother had an American father and a Chinese mother. However, in the book, whatever her background, she is repeatedly referred to by other people as a Manchu. Yü Keng's daughters Der Ling and Rong Ling (1889–1973, the future Madame Dan Paochao of Beijing) received a western education, learning French and English, and studying dance in Paris with Isadora Duncan. Upon their return to China, Der Ling became the First lady-in-waiting to the Empress Dowager Cixi, as well as interpreting for her when she received foreign visitors. Der Ling stayed at court until March 1905. In 1907, Der Ling married , an American. Der Ling had a brother, Xunling (ca. 1880–1943), who studied photography in France and later took the only photographs of Empress Dowager Cixi still in existence. Using the title of Princess, which would create controversy for her in both China and the United States in the future, Der Ling wrote of her experiences in court in her memoir , which was published in 1911. She states in her book that the status of Princess, which the Empress Dowager had given her, was valid only within the palace. As the Guangxu Emperor, who was under a form of house arrest, never confirmed the title, it was not valid in the outside world. Two Years provides unique insights into life at the Manchu court and the character of the Empress Dowager Empress, a world that ended abruptly with the 1911 revolution that overthrew the Manchu or Qing dynasty. Der Ling continued to write and published seven more books. Princess Der Ling, a.k.a. Mrs. Thaddeus C. White, died in Berkeley, California, as a result of being struck by a car while crossing an intersection. She had recently taught Chinese at University of California, Berkeley. Der Ling was not a member of the Qing royal family. Although Der Ling claimed to be an ethnic Manchu, her father Yü Keng was actually a Han Chinese Bannerman and not part of the ethnic Manchu Banners. Her father was not royal but was a bannerman, just as Der Ling claimed she was a Manchu while she was actually a Chinese Bannerwoman. A biography of Der Ling, Imperial Masquerade: The Legend of Princess Der Ling, by Grant Hayter-Menzies, was published in January 2008 by Hong Kong University Press.
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