My name is Nefertiti, queen of Upper and Lower Egypt. I am the chief wife of the great king, Akhenaten. Or at least, I was. Today, I’m a PR agent. It’s my job to make the rich people look, and feel, like gods.
As I stand here on my balcony, overlooking the city of Paris below, I recall my days as Great God’s Wife and mother of a nation. But that was before I found the secret to immortality. A secret that was never meant to be found.
I was born under a full moon in the palace of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. My grandfather was the king’s chief scribe and my father, the king’s chief priest. Both my mother and my grandmother had served as priestesses for the goddess Hathor. It was my duty to follow in my maternal lineage and attend to the goddess.
From my sixth year onward, I took part in all the great celebrations and feasts held in honor of the gods. One of my duties was to recite the prayers inscribed onto the walls of the temple. I had to learn to read the many hieroglyphs at an early age. Something I took to rather quickly.
As the granddaughter of the chief scribe, I had an advantage. My grandfather not only taught me to read the symbols but taught me to write them as well. By the time I had entered my twelfth year, I had mastered the art.
Once I’d entered into the domain of womanhood, my father brought me before the great king. It was his hope that I’d win the old man over and be chosen as one of his many wives. He believed that if I were to give the king a child, our places in the afterlife would be secure. However, I wanted none of it.
As I stood in front of the throne, the king looked me up and down. I wanted to hide away but knew there would be serious consequences for doing so. I felt ashamed of my own body and hated my father for putting me through such an ordeal. I silently prayed to my goddess for guidance and was blessed with an answer.
As my father and the king whispered about me as though I were a slave girl, two young men entered the hall. The older of the two was Prince Thutmose, heir to the Egyptian crown. The other, his younger brother, Prince Amenhotep IV.
As they came and bowed before their father, each took full notice of me standing there. This time, I felt no shame in being seen. Having the eyes of a younger man upon me sent shivers throughout my body. I found Prince Thutmose to be quite handsome. Though not as tall as his younger sibling, he was solid in stature and had kind eyes. My mind instantly went to a place where I became his chief wife.
Prince Amenhotep was much taller than his brother, but not nearly as attractive. His frame was bent and he seemed to have trouble standing upright. His face was disproportionate and his hands seemed too large for his slender arms. However, like his brother, he had kind eyes. When his eyes found mine, I felt something in my chest I’d never felt before.
The old king stood and embraced his older child. As his successor, Prince Thutmose was the king’s favorite. Yet, when it came to the younger brother, the old man gave him a simple pat on the shoulder and an almost fake smile. I felt bad for the poor boy, as you could see the hurt run through those eyes.
I never moved a muscle throughout the entire scene. I’d been taught from an early age that when you are in the presence of royalty, you keep still until you are told otherwise. As I continued to shift my gaze from one brother to the other, my father took hold of my arm and led me away. It wasn’t until later that I’d learn we’d been dismissed with a wave of the old man’s hand.
I remained silent until we reached our living quarters. My mother was preparing our evening meal when we walked in. I took a seat at the table as my father pulled my mother aside to give her the news. I could tell by the sadness in her eyes that I had become the family disappointment.
Life went on as usual after that. I continued my duties in the temple and helped my mother around the house. I had all but forgotten the entire event until the evening my father came home and announced that I’d been chosen to become a queen.
Unbeknownst to me, the king had decided not to marry me himself but thought I’d make a fine wife for his son, Prince Thutmose. I was elated to know that I could one day become the mother of a Pharaoh. It was something most young girls dreamed about in those days, myself included.
A royal reception was set up and I was taken to formally meet my future husband. My mother helped me with my dress and wig. My grandmother had adorned me with her finest jewels and perfumes. I looked every bit the part of a future queen and I was ready to meet my destiny.
The celebration was a grand soiree. My grandfather chose only his best scribes to mark the event and my father wore his best linens. My mother and grandmother set the tone with music and dancing as though the wedding had already taken place.
I took my place among the guests, taking notice of other girls in the room. I thought it odd that a few of them had been dressed much as I, but thought it was out of respect. I’d seen that at many of the festivals in which I’d served.
It seemed the party lasted for hours before the king rose to make the official announcement. I took my place and waited in anticipation.
“Silence!,” the great man bellowed. The room went quiet and all eyes were on the Pharaoh. “My people, it is with great happiness that I present to you, my son, Prince Thutmose, future ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt.” As Prince Thutmose took his place at his father’s side, the room erupted in a cacophony of cheers and adulations.
The king held his hands up once again, bringing the noise to a halt. “My people,” he continued, “it is my greatest pleasure to announce the marriage of my son, my heir, and the future king of Egypt. My people, help me welcome the future mother of the next generation.” With that, I stood to be recognized by my people. But to my astonishment, I found that I wasn’t the only one to stand. As I looked around, I found myself to be one of four girls chosen to be the wife of the future king. That’s when I realized that I was to be just another royal wife.