Did the Titanic sink because of an Ancient Egyptian curse? Was the mummy of Princess “Amen-Ra” from 900BC to blame for the disaster?
Of the many legends swirling around Titanic, this one appeals to me not only because of my fascination with the ship, but also because I write paranormal romances set in Ancient Egypt. Sad to relate, this exciting tale is untrue. Per the myth-debunking website Snopes, not only was there no mummy – cursed or otherwise – on board Titanic when she sailed, said mummy does not exist.
But there is a twist here – the man who created the legend did perish on Titanic! William T. Stead was a journalist who also believed in the paranormal, consulting mediums and psychics. He and a friend came up with this elaborate story of an evil mummy to boost newspaper circulation. Supposedly the Princess had been a tortured, unhappy soul and consequently her mummy created death and destruction wherever she was taken. Mr. Stead claimed to have hidden her under his car to sneak her aboard the Titanic. He spoke to some fellow passengers about his alleged “traveling companion”, the beautiful 2000 year old Egyptian princess in her sarcophagus. Supposedly Stead broke a superstition of the sea by starting his recital of the tale of the mummy before midnight on April 12th and finishing it in the wee hours of April 13th.
After the ship struck the iceberg on the 14th , Stead helped several women and children into the lifeboats. After all the boats had gone, he went into the 1st Class Smoking Room, where he was last seen sitting in a leather chair and reading a book. He must have been an interesting character as he was rumored to be in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize that year due to some of his crusading journalistic work.
Stead had often claimed that he would die from either lynching or drowning and had published two pieces that gained eerie significance in light of his fate on the Titanic. In 1886, he wrote the fictional article “How the Mail Steamer Went Down in Mid-Atlantic, by a Survivor” where a steamer collides with another ship, with high loss of life due to lack of lifeboats. Stead had added “This is exactly what might take place and will take place if liners are sent to sea short of boats”. In 1892, Stead published a story called From the Old World to the New, in which a fictional ship Majestic rescues survivors of another ship that collided with an iceberg.
I’ve also read several accounts that, prior to embarking on Titanic, he told friends he’d been dreaming about cats being thrown out of a tall building into icy water and feared this was an omen of impending doom.
Mr. Stead had a small kernel of truth at the heart of his hoax, in that there is a wooden, painted sarcophagus lid in the British Museum for a high born woman, whose name is unknown. She may or may not have been a priestess or a princess but it has been verified this coffin cover never left the Museum in 1912 and is there still. Wooden hands were affixed to the coffin lid as if she’s reaching out, which is spooky! And at least one person who studied her and wrote about her died at a very young age so she is known as the “Unlucky Mummy.”
The Titanic was an unlucky ship but apparently not subject to an Egyptian curse.