When Emperor Puyi ascended to the Chinese throne in 1908, a life of luxury seemed assured from then on. But history has a way of changing even the best-laid plans, it seems. And so it was with Puyi: less than four years after the emperor began his reign, the country became a republic, and he ultimately found himself out of a job.
As a member of China’s royal Qing dynasty, though, Puyi would undoubtedly have lived opulently under any circumstances. But the son of Prince Chun became ruler rather unexpectedly; when he was a toddler, a decision was made that changed his life forever.
In November 1908 – three months shy of Puyi’s third birthday – a royal contingent entered his family’s home. The guards and servants were there, they apparently informed Prince Chun, to reveal that Puyi was to become the Chinese emperor. And with that, the entourage took Chun’s son away from his father.