Queen Tiye: The Black Woman Who Was Egypt’s Most Powerful Queen

Tiye was the queen of Egypt of the 18th dynasty and the wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, the mother of Akhenaten, and the grandmother of both King Tutankhamun and Ankhsenamun. Queen Tiye was characterized by enormous influence at the courts of her husband and was popular due to her diplomatic prowess of communicating directly with rulers of foreign lands. According to the Amarna letters, Queen Tiye was highly regarded and revered by these rulers, especially during the reign of Akhenaten.

Queen Tiye was born in the mid-14th century BCE, during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose IV. Her father was Yuya, who served as a provincial priest from Akhmin. Tjuya was her mother, who worked as a servant to the queen’s mother Mutemwiya. Other historical sources have claimed that Yuya was the Master of the Horse of the royal court and Tjuya a priestess. Nevertheless, Tiye’s childhood was spent at the royal palace though she was not of royal blood. Therefore, it is likely that her mother was indeed a servant due to her early familiarization with the court. Eventually, it was clear that Tiye’s parents enjoyed a more elevated status. Tiye had one brother called Amen. He was the high priest of the cult of Akhmin after taking over after his father.

Tiye’s parents’ names are said to originate from Nubia. Her style of leadership was also related to the Nubian custom of female rulers.

Queen Tiye rose to enormous prominence through her marriage to Amenhotep III. The union made it possible for her to be among the ranks of royalty and elevated her status as the Great Royal Wife. Serving as the Great Royal Wife, Queen Tiye possessed considerable power and was deemed influential. She was not only the King’s confidant but Tiye was also involved in the decision-making processes of the kingdom. Her counsel and wisdom earned her respect from both the pharaoh and the Egyptian court.

A sculpture of Queen Tiye

Queen Tiye is best recognized in the annals of Egyptian history for her adeptness in diplomacy and international relations. She forged alliances with foreign leaders and strengthened Egypt’s position on the global stage. Her diplomatic prowess helped maintain peace and ensure stability in the region. During the reign of her son, Pharaoh Akhenaten, Queen Tiye played a pivotal role in the religious revolution that unfolded in Egypt. When Akhenaten proposed the worship of the sun god Aten, Queen Tiye made sure she actively supported and participated in the new religious practices. The religious landscape of ancient Egypt can be linked to Tiye’s influence.

Queen Tiye also worked assiduously to promote Egyptian arts. She promoted the development of exquisite jewellery and elaborate courtly fashion. She set new trends in royal adornment, with unique and intricate designs that reflected her elevated status. Besides the customary titles for a queen, like Hereditary Princess, Lady of the Two Lands, King’s Wife, or Great King’s Wife, Tiye was also known as Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt and Mistress of the Two Lands. With her by Amenhotep III’s side, she helped her husband in dealing with domestic and foreign policies. Their reign as a royal couple was considered a high point in Egyptian history.

Queen Tiye Bust
Funeral Mask of Queen Tiye

Tiye died around the twelfth year of Akhenaten’s reign in the year 1338 BCE. Her death is said to have coincided with her son’s seeming loss of interest in foreign affairs. Some say his grief over the loss of his mother influenced his withdrawal. Either way, his reign suffers a marked decline after Tiye’s death, and he largely neglected foreign policy, preferring to remain in his palace at Akhetaten and attend to his new religion. Tiye’s descendants, including her grandson Tutankhamun, carried on her bloodline, preserving her lineage in the annals of Egyptian history.

Queen Tiye’s legacy is a testament to the important role women played in shaping the destiny of ancient Egypt. It also speaks to the widely contested premise that Black people were present and controlled the affairs of Ancient Egypt.

Author: Delvid Stanley-Coker

Delvid Stanley-Coker is a dedicated writer and editor for The African Dream. His passion and desire to publicize the appreciable department of Africa and voice out the prevalent ills of society have adequately contributed to the promulgation of stories of different sorts. Email: stanleycokerdelvid@gmail.com. WhatsApp: +23276737886 Facebook: Delvid Stanley-Coker.