Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was the son and heir of King Aerys II, Prince of Dragonstone, and elder brother of Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen. He was the husband of Elia Martell and the father of Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon Targaryen.
Appearance and Character
Rhaegar had silver-gold hair, but dark lilac eyes, he was considered to be tall and breathtakingly handsome. Cersei Lannister who was infatuated with him, remembers Rhaegar as the most beautiful man she'd ever seen, as did Jon Connington - he believed that Elia Martell was an incompatible wife for the Prince of Dragonstone. In battle, Rhaegar wore resplendent night-black armour that was adorned with blood-red rubies, with dragon wings on his helm, and he wielded a sword. Rhaegar is often described to look somewhat like his sister Daenerys.
Rhaegar was frequently lamented to have the makings of a great king; he was nothing like his father. Rhaegar was very bookish in his youth, such that people jested that the Queen swallowed some books and a candle while he was in her womb. As a boy he was able to impress the maesters with his wit, and throughout his life he proved himself to be highly intelligent. Rhaegar was also considered to be a talented musician and great knight, but was also viewed as often melancholy by Ser Barristan and others - he became so melancholic that, when he sang his sorrows with a harp in his hand it reduced listeners to tears, even the wild Lyanna Stark. He would often visit the ruins of Summerhall with his harp and while returning he'd always play a sad song of such beauty that it reduced women to tears.
He was an enigmatic man, and there are many mysteries to his actions - why he visited Summerhall, why he chose Lyanna Stark over Elia Martell in the knowledge that she was betrothed, and why he suggested to Jaime Lannister that changes would be made when he returned from the Trident. He was extremely skilled warrior in his own right and managed to wound Robert during their fateful duel, being dangerous enough an opponent that their duel reached legendary status. Despite this, Rhaegar had been late into combat, and had only decided to take up swordsmanship at all when he read something that either scared or persuaded him to do so.
Even though he had done reprehensible things in the eyes of some, Rhaegar was still adored and dearly missed by many in Westeros, as the people adored him. Those who knew him saw him as a great man, and thought him a promising king, but this was not to be.
Rhaegar wore resplendent black armour in battle, which was famously studded with red rubies styled in the shape of a dragon.
Rhaegar was Aerys II's and Rhaella's first born son, and was born on 259 AL, on the very same day when the Tragedy at Summerhall took place. As a young child, Rhaegar was extremely studious, but considered to be very quiet and awkward, showing no interest in playing with other children his own age, except for his harp or reading. People in his father's court even jest sourly that he was the coming of Baelor the Blessed again. But one day, as Rhaegar was reading some old scrolls, he found something that changed his mind. Though the scroll that he had read is unknown, the next day he went to the Master-at-Arms, Ser Willem Darry, and said " I will require sword and armor. It seems I must be a warrior." Rhaegar would eventually become a capable fighter, distinguishing himself at tournaments and becoming knighted at seventeen years. He was later arranged by his father King Aerys II Targaryen to marry a girl with Valyrian blood, but failed to find any. Aerys, having no daughter at the time, was offered by Tywin Lannister, then Hand for Aerys, his daughter Cersei to Rhaegar. Aerys refused, infuriating Tywin and causing him to resign his post as Hand. Rhaegar later married the Dornish Princess Elia Martell. Elia, while sickly, managed to give her husband two children: a daughter, Rhaenys, and a son, Aegon. Rhaegar believed in his younger years that he was the Prince Who Was Promised, but later he believed, with many others, that his son Aegon was the fabled Prince.
Rhaegar emerged victorious from the Tourney at Harrenhal, where he surprised everyone by crowning Lyanna Stark the Queen of Love and Beauty. After winning another tourney a year later, she and Rhaegar disappeared together, the Starks and Baratheons believing Rhaegar to have abducted Lyanna. This spurred Robert's Rebellion, and Rhaegar's death at Robert Baratheon's hands during the Battle of the Trident during a terrifying duel - Rhaegar seriously wounded Robert in the fight to the point that Robert had to refrain from further combat for quite a while, and when Robert struck him the deathly blow the rubies on his armour exploded into the river, earning it the moniker 'the Ruby Ford'.
After Rhaegar's death, King's Landing was sacked and his daughter Rhaenys was stabbed to death by Ser Amory Lorch and son Aegon was slammed against a wall. Ser Gregor Clegane later raped and killed Princess Elia, causing enormous resentment among the Dornish aristocracy. Princess Daenerys Targaryen was soon born after, and she and her brother were smuggled to Essos by Ser Willem Darry, so the Targaryen line narrowly survived Robert's Rebellion.
Rhaegar, though mentioned in the series only appears once, in Daenerys vision in the House of the Undying. He's seen talking to his wife Elia discussing what he'll name his son and his destiny. The conversation is as follows:
The man had her brother's hair, but he was taller, and his eyes were a dark indigo rather than lilac. "Aegon," he said to a woman nursing a newborn babe in a great wooden bed. "What better name for a king?"
"Will you make a song for him?" the woman asked.
"He has a song," the man replied. "He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire." He looked up when he said it and his eyes met Dany's, and it seemed as if he saw her standing there beyond the door. "There must be one more," he said, though whether he was speaking to her or the woman in the bed she could not say. "The dragon has three heads."
Notes and References
Many fans believe that Rhaegar did not kidnap Lyanna Stark, but rather that they were in love and together had a child that fans believe to be Jon Snow.
There is much to be said for this R(haegar) + L(yanna) = J(on) prophecy. "His is the song of Ice & Fire." The "fire" coming from Rhaegar, and the "ice" coming from Lyanna Stark, most likely has to do with the prophecy of Azor Ahai, who will save the world from the long night (white walkers). We know the Starks of old were the Kings of Winter, but there has to be some sort of connection between the Starks and the white walkers or the Starks and the Children of the Forest that gives them some sort of magic relating to ice such as the Targaryens have with fire and dragons. Although many people in westeros may say Rhaegar abducted Lyanna, or that he kidnapped her and raped her, there are some such as Ser Barristan Selmy who tells Dany that Rhaegar was a kind man, and this is also shown through other rememberances of Rhaegar.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell IV.