Queen Tiye continued the tradition of powerful Great Royal Wives and elevated the role further by extending her reach into diplomacy and foreign relations.
Tiye (pronounced ‘tee-ay’) was only eleven or twelve when she married King Amenhotep III. He likely married her in order to strengthen his tie to
the royal lineage. Though Tiye’s father was a high-ranking priest, it was her mother, Tjuyu, who was most probably royalty. Tjuyu was involved with a number of religious cults and held a variety of mystical titles.
Tiye and Amenhotep soon became a serious power couple. While he is recognized as having been a great statesman, Tiye was his confidante and most trusted advisor in all things. From brokering marriages for their seven children to managing requests for Egypt’s gold from other nations, Tiye’s seal is found on a number of documents from the time.
Intelligent, strong and fierce, Tiye was respected not only at home but by foreign dignitaries visiting the Egyptian court. Leaders from bordering kingdoms were happy to deal directly through her and was the first Egyptian queen to have her name recorded on official acts.
Amenhotep devoted shrines and temples to his formidable wife, and she was worshipped as a Goddess in parts of Nubia during her lifetime. She would have been in her late forties when Amenhotep died and her son, Amenhotep IV, later Akhenaten, ascended to the throne.
There is evidence that Tiye continued to advise her son, as she lived until at least twelve years into his reign. She is mentioned in a number of letters to outlying kingdoms, demonstrating her political influence.
Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt: From Early Dynastic Times to the Death of Cleopatra – Joyce Tyldesley
Khan Academy video: ‘Portrait head of Queen Tiye with a crown of Two Feathers‘
- Tiye is a character in Mika Waltari’s novel The Egyptian (1945), in which she is called Taia. In the 1954 film of the novel, she was played by Judith Evelyn.
- The Twelfth Transforming by Pauline Gedge tells the story of Akhenaten’s reign from Tiye’s point of view.