Over 3,000 years ago, in a time when class distinction was deeply rooted in cultural tradition, and the worship of deities held great importance in Egyptian society; eighteen-year-old Crown Prince Amenhotep III, a Prince of half royal blood, defies the class distinctions and protocols that govern Egypt’s royal family, to name a wife of his own choosing. The young woman he contemplates is not of royal blood, nor the nobility. Her name is Tiye; she is the fifteen-year-old High Priestess from the Kingdom of Nubia, Egypts’ longstanding rival, and out of his reach.
Struggling to gain his authority, Amenhotep is adamant in not letting the priests of Amun dictate whom he should marry as they had his father. As the second son of Pharaoh Thutmosis IV, born to his common but favored secondary wife, Amenhotep was never meant to rule. It was only after the assassination of Crown Prince Amenemhat, Pharaoh Thutmosis’ firstborn son with his Queen, and of pure royal blood, did Amenhotep become heir to the throne.
Because the assassin has never been found, Amenhotep harbors deep mistrust of his family, leading him to remain unwed. It is expected of Amenhotep to name Princess Armenia; the beautiful royal daughter of Thutmosis and the Queen, a pure-blood, and his half-sister, to be his Royal Wife and Queen. A marriage between the two will ensure the royal bloodline remains strong as the gods intend, so say the priests.
Amenhotep’s delay in naming his sister as his Royal Wife ignites a power struggle among the nobles, who begin vying for their daughters to be chosen. An unmarried Crown Prince without an heir is incentive for enemies both within and outside the realm, to try and usurp the throne. One such enemy is the Grand Vizier Lord Sneferu, nephew of Pharaoh Thutmosis and Amenhotep’s cousin. Sneferu believes only a prince of pure royal blood, such as himself, is worthy of the throne, and he conspires tirelessly to make it so.
With pressure mounting for Amenhotep to fulfill his responsibilities in providing an heir, he invites High Priestess Tiye to Malkata Palace as his guest for his fathers’ Sed Festival. He wants to meet her and judge whether she will make a suitable wife and future Queen of Egypt.
When Priestess Tiye arrives in Thebes, Amenhotep is struck by her beauty and graciousness. He immediately turns on the charm as hands on host to the High Priestess and her entourage. Amenhotep’s personal attention to Tiye is noticed by his family, to which he brazenly ignores. When the time comes for Tiye to return to Nubia, Amenhotep prepares to tell her his true intentions, however the unexpected death of his father delays that conversation.
Amid the chaos of Amenhotep’s ascension, he finally asks Tiye to become his Royal Wife. While she considers his proposal, the young Pharaoh decides to make a symbolic gesture, a tradition of the Nubian people. He goes on a lion hunt to show his courage and worthiness to be her husband. Although he is King, he is still a man out to impress the woman he desires.
While Amenhotep is away, Tiye learns how unwelcome she is at Egyptian court. High Priestess or not, she is common born; and viciously chased from the palace and out of Egypt under threat to her life. When Amenhotep returns from his hunt eager to present Tiye the lions’ fang, he is devastated and angry to hear what happened to the High Priestess.
Now Amenhotep must make amends to Tiye and her family, because of the grave insult committed against her, and the gods that chose her. Impatient to set things right Amenhotep travels to Nubia to ask forgiveness in person. Before he returns to Thebes, Amenhotep asks Tiye again if she will give up her life in Nubia, to return to the hostile environment from which she was forced to flee, and become his Royal Wife in secret, then boldly proclaim her Queen.