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; 18-year-old Amenhotep, a half-blood Prince, 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 15-year-old High Priestess from the Kingdom of Nubia, Egypt’s longstanding rival, and out of his reach.
As Prince Amenhotep struggles to gain his authority, he 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, born to his common but favored secondary wife, Amenhotep is a prince of half-royal blood who was never meant to rule. It was only after the assassination of Prince Amenemhat, Pharaoh Thutmosis’ firstborn son born to his Queen, did Amenhotep become heir to the throne.
Because the assassin has never been found, Amenhotep harbors deep mistrust of his family. Hence the reason he is unwed and procrastinates in naming who will become his Royal Wife and Queen; although it is expected of him to name the Princess Armenia, a pure-blood royal daughter of Pharaoh and the Queen, and Amenhotep’s half-sister. A marriage between the two would ensure the royal bloodline remains strong as the gods intend, so say the priests.
But Amenhotep’s delay in naming Princess Armenia has ignited a power struggle among the noble families, who begin vying for their daughters to be chosen as his royal wife. 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 the King and Amenhotep’s cousin. Sneferu believes only a prince of pure royal blood such as himself, should sit on the throne, and conspires tirelessly to make it so.
With pressure mounting for him to fulfill his responsibilities in providing an heir, Amenhotep moves quickly, inviting the High Priestess to Thebes, as his guest at Malkata Palace during his father’s Sed Festival. He wants to meet her, and judge for himself 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 a hands on host, to the Priestess and her entourage. Amenhotep’s personal attention to the Priestess is noticed by his family and the nobles at court, to which the Prince brazenly ignores.
Amenhotep is drawn to Priestess Tiye’s genuine concern for others, and her open support of him, without agenda or expectation of reward, which is more than he ever envisioned. With her time as his guest coming to an end, Amenhotep prepares to tell the High Priestess of his true desire. However the unexpected death of Pharaoh Thutmosis, delays that conversation.
Amid the chaos following Thutmosis’ death and Amenhotep’s ascension to the Throne, the time comes to tell Priestess Tiye, the truth of why he invited her to Thebes, and ask if she will become his wife. Before he does, the young Pharaoh wants to make a symbolic gesture; a tradition of the Nubian people. He goes on a lion hunt to show his courage and prove his worthiness to be her husband. Although he is King, he is a man trying 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 abruptly chased from the palace and out of Egypt, under threat to her life.
When Amenhotep returns from his hunt eager to present to Tiye, the lions fang as a token of his bravery; he is devastated and angry to hear what happened to the Priestess causing her to leave.
Now Amenhotep must figure out a way to make amends and pay tribute to Tiye and her family, because of the grave insult committed against her, and the gods that chose her. To set things right, Pharaoh Amenhotep travels to Nubia to atone in person, and then ask Priestess Tiye to give up her life in Nubia, and return to the hostile environment from which she was forced to flee, and become his wife in secret; then boldly proclaim her Queen.