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It was still early in the morning when the great queen stepped out on the terrace of her new home. The stone was still cool under her feet, but this one time, on this special day, she had chosen to go barefoot. For the very first time, she would observe the sun rising over the new great city of Akhetaten that was being built in the sun disk’s honor. Already she could see the first red shimmer on the horizon, reaching out with tentative hands, giving life to all people and all creatures. How precious was this holy moment!

Soon, her servants would bathe her and put on her make-up for the day. She knew that even in these still unfamiliar surroundings her two favorite maids would already kneel in her chamber, waiting in silence. They were ready to begin their work, but they knew better than to disturb her in this moment that was hers. It was only proper that in the absence of her husband, who was going to observe the placement of a new stele and lead the necessary ceremonies today, she should worship the rising sun disk in solitude.

She knew that somewhere in the streets of the city her husband the king would also greet the morning sun, as always. He was good with words and his prayer would be lovely to listen to. Her own prayer was quiet but just as important, just as powerful. She decided on heartfelt thanks for the first patch of light reaching her feet, playing around her toes, warming them. Like most of the queen’s private prayers, it was not the kind of thing suitable for public ceremonies, but that did not matter. The hands of the king’s holy father Aten would unite them in their worship.

Proudly she looked at the half-finished buildings speaking of glory to come. Oh, she had seen her husband’s plans and thought them beautiful, but how much more lovely was the real city! Already it surpassed her imagination by far. The plans had shown her the city’s layout, the placement of the streets and the position of places of worship. What the plans had not been able to prepare her for was all the sheer beauty surrounding her. The greatest architects and artists of both countries were doing their best work, as proper, and when it was finished it would be the most beautiful place in the world, as it should be, all in the glory of the sun.

What the plans had also failed to convey was all the life of the place. The streets were already bustling with workers and with carts. She could hear the first cries of birds woken up by the life-giving light. Watched from a distance, even the buildings seemed almost alive in the first rays of the rising sun, their growth an organic thing under the queen’s eyes. Smiling, the queen observed a group of workers paying respect to a depiction of her family, even the overseer taking a break for a moment of contemplation before he shooed his charges back to work. This was as it should be, she thought.

Within just a few moments, the light had crept up her body and was now shining on her face. She did not turn away. The great queen knew that after all it was Aten’s hands reaching out to her as an intermediary between the god and the people worshipping her. Her god was being generous today, and it was her duty to take all that light, all that life, for her people’s sake. She smiled, reached out and took his hand.