The succession of Thutmose IV appears to have had no recognition at all by Amenhotep II, either by co-regency or announced intent. On a statue dedicated in the reign of Amenhotep II by Prince Thutmose (later Thutmose IV) in the Temple of Mut at Karnak, the tutor accompanying the prince, named Hekareshu, was designated simply as nurse of the royal children; however, after Thutmose’s accession, Hekareshu was retrospectively termed ‘god’s father’ and ‘nurse of the king’s eldest son’. Although Merytra may have appeared on Thutmose Ill’s late monuments, Thutmose IV’s mother, Tiaa, cannot be certainly attested on a monument of Amenhotep II’s other than as a later addition by Thutmose himself There is no evidence before her son’s reign that Tiaa’s position influenced the succession.
Royal nurses (male and female), together with tutors from the ranks of retired courtiers, nurtured and educated royal children during the i8th Dynasty. The burgeoning documentation for princes at this time is thus probably no accident at all. Competition among the swelling ranks of capable young princes, particularly with the cessation of regular military campaigns in Asia after the first decade of Amenhotep ITs reign, is not difficult to imagine. And competition can erupt unexpectedly into struggle among ambitious youths. The story of Thutmose IV’s elevation to the kingship related by the Giza Sphinx Stele inscription has been interpreted in the past to suggest that he was not the legitimate heir, but it need tell us no more than that royal ideology often drew upon divine legitimization in the New Kingdom. The sheer romance of the ‘Sphinx Stele’ is perhaps a good enough reason to quote part of it here:
Now the statue of the very great Khepri [the Great Sphinx] rested in this place, great of fame, sacred of respect, the shade of Ra resting on him. Memphis and every city on its two sides came to him, their arms in adoration to his face, bearing great offerings for his ka. One of these days it happened that prince Thutmose came travelling at the time of midday. He rested in the shadow of this great god. [Sleep and] dream [took possession of him] at the moment the sun was at zenith. Then he found the majesty of this noble god speaking from his own mouth like a father speaks to his son, and saying: ‘Look at me, observe me, my son Thutmose. 1 am your father Horemakhet-Khepri-Ra-Atum. I shall give to you the kingship [upon the land
Before the living] [Behold, my condition is like one in illness], all [my limbs being
Ruined]. The sand of the desert, upon which I used to be, (now) confronts me; and it is in order to cause that you do what is in my heart that I have waited.’
The request addressed to Thutmose to excavate the Sphinx from the sand was answered, and the king’s retaining wall around the amphitheatre, as well as a set of stelae set up around the arena, document his work in the region. Possibly his construction efforts were intended to distract attention from problems with the succession. The suggestion of a struggle for the throne can be seen in several monuments dedicated by Thutmose’s brothers at their father Amenhotep II’s Giza Sphinx temple. They were found broken and mutilated, and their defacement suggests some sort of damnatio memoriae, but there is presently no way to demonstrate what provoked it. Prince Weben-senu is the most likely son of Amenhotep to have been the owner of defaced Giza stelae A and B. Webensenu’s canopic jars and shabtis were found in Amenhotep IPs tomb (KV 35 in the Valley of the Kings), but it is difficult to know when they were placed there. We may suppose that this prince was of some importance, but more than this is not possible. The defaced Giza stelae should thus not be ignored as evidence of a struggle, but we cannot confirm or deny that Thutmose IV was the usurper.