Princess Meritaten ("Beloved of Aten") was the eldest daughter of the union between the then called Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti. Her pet name was "Mayati", and she was refered to as such in at least one official correspondence. She may have been born while Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) was still the Crown Prince, or as late as year 2 of Amenhotep's reign as Pharaoh of Egypt. She was probably born in the palace at Waset (Thebes) but since the royal family had traditionally had many residences, she could have been born virtually anywhere-- except Akhet-Aten (Tell el-Amarna) as the new capital had not been built yet.
In about year 6 or so, Princess Meritaten, her two little sisters; Meketaten, and (the baby) Ankhesenpaaten; and her parents moved to Akhet-Aten. Her father became Neferkheperure-Wa'enre Akhenaten and her mother's name became Nefernefruaten-Nefertiti. Within 5 years, three more princesses are born, Nefernefruaten Ta-Sherit, Nefernefrure, and Setepenre.
In year 14 or 15, Nefertiti dies, falls from favor, or becomes co-regent (see: Smenkhkare: Who IS this Guy?) and Meritaten replaces her in many inscriptions. Whether Akhenaten married his daughter in the full sense of the word is still debated, but the appearance of another princess, Meritaten ta-Sherit ("Little Meritaten" or "Meritaten the Younger") raises this question. Although many scholars believe this child to be the daughter of Meritaten and Akhenaten, it is possible that Meritaten ta-sherit was the child of Akhenaten and one of his secondary wives, or even the child of Meritaten and her next husband, Smenkhkare (if he was indeed a he).
It is generally assumed that Prince Smenkhkare ruler for a brief period after the Akhenaten's death. At this time, Meritaten was the Great Royal Wife of Ankhkheperure Djeserkheperu Smenkhkare. Both Meritaten and Smenkhkare died shortly after Akhenaten's death. The second princess, Meketaten, was also dead. So it fell to the third princess, Ankhesenpaaten, to fill in the role of the Great Royal Wife. Following her eldest sister's footsteps, the 12 or 13 year old Ankhesenpaaten was married to the heir to the throne, the next Pharaoh of Egypt, the 9 or 10 year old Tutankhaten.
Princess Meketaten ("Behold the Aten" or "Protected by Aten") was born in year 2 or 3 of Amenhotep IV's (Akhenaten) rule. She was the second daughter of Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti.
In about year 6 of her fathers reign, she moved to Akhet-Aten with her parents and sisters; elder sister Meritaten, and her little sister, the baby Ankhesenpaaten. Her parents became known as Neferkheperure Wa'enre Akhenaten and Nefernefruaten Nefertiti. By year 10, Meketaten had three more little sisters; Nefernefruaten Ta-Sherit, Nefernefrure, and Setepenre.
By year 14, (possibly as early as year 13 or even late year 12) Princess Meketaten, the much loved second daughter of the Royal Couple, was dead. A carving in the royal tomb shows the family grieving the loss of Meketaten. But how did the 12-year-old princess die?
Some have suggested that the presence of a baby at the mourning scene implies that the princess died in child birth. It was not all that uncommon for a girl as young as 11 or 12 to be married. If a girl was capable of bearing children, she could be married. But, if she did die in childbirth, who was the father? The only male present at the scene is her father, Akhenaten himself. Could he have been the father? And what happened to the little prince or princess born to Meketaten?
Or maybe Meketaten didn't die in childbirth. There is some evidence of plague in Egypt at about the time of Meketaten's death. Could she have been a victim of disease?
Meketaten's death, while a crushing blow to the family, shaped the arguably no less tragic future of the dynasty. There are so many "what ifs?" in the Amarna period. What if Meketaten had lived, or, what if her child had been a prince, and he had lived?