why rhaegar and elia’s marriage annulment (in the show) makes no sense
disclaimer: this post is primarily about the show (since the books haven’t discussed the possibility of a marriage annulment between elia and rhaegar), though i’ll be using examples from both the book as well as the show in this post
im p sure everyone in the fandom now knows that rhaegar targaryen had his marriage to elia martell annulled, them married lyanna stark, making jon snow a legitimate child, not a bastard, named aegon targaryen (more on that dumbass name choice later)
however, it’s painfully obvious that d&d did this so that 1) jon wouldn’t be a bastard and 2) he’d have a legitimate claim to the iron throne to cause ~~~drama~~~ in the eighth season, both with jon and daenerys’ newfound relationship as well as politics in the north and westeros in general
rhaegar, elia, and lyanna are all interesting characters because all the information we have on them is biased to the pov characters as well as other characters in the got universe that are talking to them. robert baratheon saw rhaegar as a kidnapping rapist, barristan selmy told daenerys he was soft, gentle, and kind, viserys told daenerys that he was a brutal murderer who liked to kill people. as for lyanna, robert saw her as beautiful and perfect, a wonderful lady, whist ned saw her as much more, calling her wild with “wolf’s blood”. arya is often compared to her, both in looks as well as personality, and we all know what arya is like as a character.
moving on to rhaegar and elia-they weren’t in love, their marriage a political one, much like most other westerosi marriages, though they’re described as having a “complex” relationship, and being “very fond of one-another”. they had their two children, aegon and rhaenys, both of whom were named after two of the three targaryen conquerors (this will be important later)
i think something we can all agree on is that rhaegar, as a character, was obsessed with prophecy. he was a talented fighter, but he also loved reading and music, as well as prophecies; he believed that his baby boy, aegon targaryen, was the Prince That Was Promised, and you’ll notice he’s named after aegon the conqueror, his sister rhaenys being named after one of aegon’s sister wives. rhaegar believed that he needed to have three children, one for each head of the dragon. however, elia, who had a lot of health issues even before giving birth to her two children, was advised that if she tried to have a third, she died.
my theory on lyanna and rhaegar’s relationship is that, maybe they did end up falling in love. according to the show, they were married and loved one-another. however, i believe one of rhaegar’s main motives when impregnating lyanna was to have a third child, the third head of the dragon. this is why i think viserys would’ve been a more appropriate name for jon snow, as viserys is the male version of the name visenya, and visenya targaryen was the only conqueror that didn’t have one of rhaegar’s children named after her.
with that being said, it makes absolutely no sense to rhaegar’s character, nor his motives, to annul his marriage to elia; he was trying to fulfill a prophecy, to have three children for each head of the dragon, so why would he annul his marriage and delegitimize two of his three children??? there’s no logical explanation. rhaegar was an asshole and who’s actions unintentionally led to the deaths of his wife and two children, but he wouldn’t have delegitimized aegon nor rhaenys just so that his child with lyanna wouldn’t be a bastard. it makes no sense, and it’s just more d&d bullshit to make jon the heir to the iron throne.