Elia Martell was the fourth child and first daughter born to the ruling Princess of Dorne, and the second child to live past infancy. She was born a month premature, and her older brother Doran did not expect her to live, when he learned about her birth; she survived, however, though her health was always fragile thereafter. During her youth she was very close to her younger brother, Oberyn, to whom she was only one year apart.
When Elia reached the age of marriage, she and her brother Oberyn, together with their mother and their mother’s consort, traveled from Dorne to several potential suitors for both Elia and Oberyn. Amongst the places they visited were Starfall, the Arbor, Oldtown, the Shield Islands, Crakehall, and finally Casterly Rock. Oberyn mocked all her Elia’s suitors. In Oldtown, Elia met Baelor Hightower, whom she liked most of all her suitors. She had been half in love with him, until he farted in the presence of both her and Oberyn, leading to Oberyn naming him “Baelor Breakwind”. Elia could not look at him without laughing afterwards.