Empress Wang was born in 8 BC, to Wang Mang and his wife
Lady Wang, the daughter of Wang Xian (王咸) the Marquess of Yichun. By the time of her birth, her father had resigned from his powerful position as commander of the armed forces, which he held under his cousin
Emperor Cheng and briefly under Emperor Cheng's successor and nephew
Emperor Ai. Her father was hated by Emperor Ai's grandmother
Grand Empress Dowager Fu. However, in 1 BC, after Emperor Ai's death, Wang Mang's aunt
Grand Empress Dowager Wang seized power back from Emperor Ai's male favorite (and probable lover)
Dong Xian and recalled Wang Mang to serve as regent to her stepgrandson, the young Emperor Ping.