Yonglin was born in the Aisin Gioro, the clan of Manchu emperors, as the 17th and youngest son of Emperor Qianlong (r. 1736-1795). His mother, Empress Xiaoyichun, from the Weigiya clan, also gave birth to Qianlong's 15th son, Yongyan (Emperor Jiaqing). Yonglin was strong and dark-skinned. He loved music, amusement and traveling. Therefore, Qianlong didn't like this son.
After Yongyan succeeded to the throne, he was strict with Yonglin. Yonglin began to behave well and had entertainment only at his mansion. He was kind-hearted even to subordinates, and valued friendship.
In 1799, he was promoted to Junwang (second-rank prince), or Prince Qing of the Second Rank. In 1820, Yonglin was promoted to Qinwang (first-rank prince), becoming known as Prince Qing of the first rank. He died in the same year and was buried in a mountain of Changping county in Beijing. Now there is only one monument and a single-hole stone bridge in front of the tomb.