Successful and Unsuccessful Lovers of the Rich and Powerful in History

Lao Ai, still from “The Emperor and the Assassin”, Sony Pictures

33. Lao Ai was the toyboy lover of a Queen who attempted a coup against the first emperor of China.

 During the third century BC, a young man called Lao Ai caught the eye of the dowager Queen of Qin, one of the states that later became part of China. The Queen was so enamoured with Lao that she had him disguised as a eunuch and sneaked him into her court. However, Lao was not content to remain the Queen’s plaything. After using his influence to acquire great wealth and position, he attempted to seize power. Lao conspired with the regent of Qin, Lu Buwei to overthrow the young King Qin Shi Huang. However, the plot failed, and Lao executed in 238 BC. As for the young King, who had evaded the coup, he went onto become the first Emperor of China.