This Lord of the Rings article contains spoilers for The Rings of Power.
In The Rings of Power episode 7, Galadriel finally brought up the issue of her husband Celeborn. She told Theo that Celeborn went off to war against Morgoth and never came back, and she seems to believe that he is dead. Anyone who has read or watched The Lord of the Rings, of course, knows that is not true! So where is he?
In Unfinished Tales, Christopher Tolkien – who spent much of his career collecting and editing his father’s various notes and drafts – said, “There is no part of the history of Middle-earth more full of problems than the story of Galadriel and Celeborn.” J.R.R. Tolkien was constantly re-drafting and changing his mind about their story, so anything that is not nailed down in The Lord of the Rings and its appendices is open to interpretation, and The Lord of the Rings offers very little in the way of backstory for them.
In The Silmarillion, Celeborn is described as “kinsman of Thingol” and “prince of Doriath,” a forested Elf kingdom in Middle-earth. Celeborn is a Sindarin Elf, also known rather poetically as Elves of the Twilight. His grandfather was called Elmo, which isn’t relevant to anything except that it’s quite funny if you know Sesame Street. Celeborn’s own original name in some drafts was the equally amusing, though for a different reason, Teleporno.
Sindarin Elves had never been to Valinor, the heavenly realm where Galadriel was born. The Elves of Mirkwood, including the Elvenking Thranduil and his son Legolas, were also Sindarin. In fact, in one of Tolkien’s drafts published in Unfinished Tales, Celeborn is the reason that Galadriel did not go back to Valinor after the defeat of Morgoth, because he did not want to leave Middle-earth. Obviously, The Rings of Power has gone a different route with that particular storyline.
Celeborn and Galadriel then became known as Lord and Lady of the Eldar in Eregion, an Elf kingdom near Moria (separate from Lindon, the kingdom ruled by Gil-galad). But they had a difference of opinion over relations with the Dwarves. Celeborn could not forgive Dwarves in general for the death of Thingol many years before. Thingol was Celeborn’s great-uncle and he got into a fight with a group of Dwarf craftsmen over a necklace and ended up getting killed, leading to the eventual downfall of the kingdom of Doriath.
Galadriel was more open to working with Dwarves, and Tolkien notes that the Dwarves in Moria did not actually have anything to do with the downfall of Doriath anyway. Galadriel “looked upon the Dwarves with the eye of a commander, seeing in them the finest warriors to pit against the Orcs,” Tolkien wrote in his outline. In fact, she wanted to unite all the peoples of Middle-earth against the lingering evil. We haven’t yet seen her have anything to do with Dwarves in The Rings of Power, but it seems likely this might come up in season 2.
In Tolkien’s outline as set out in Unfinished Tales, while forging the Rings of Power with Celebrimbor, Sauron instigated a revolt against Galadriel and Celeborn in Eregion, and this is when they became separated for a while. Galadriel went through Moria to found a realm in Lórinand, later called Lothlórien. However, Celeborn refused to go through Moria because he hated Dwarves so much. A series of dramatic events followed, which will presumably be adapted in later seasons of The Rings of Power, and Galadriel and Celeborn were eventually reunited in Rivendell. They already had a daughter called Celebrían, who had gone with Galadriel, and who later married Elrond, presumably while all three were living together in Elrond’s home at Rivendell.
The Rings of Power obviously isn’t quite going with this outline, and it is a late draft that Tolkien contradicted in other places. However, it does seem to have given the creators behind the show the idea that Celeborn and Galadriel were separated for some time, though in the series, this has happened because Galadriel believes Celeborn is dead. Whether his intense hatred of Dwarves will play a part in the story when he eventually reappears, only time will tell, though it seems likely – that is far too juicy a story thread to be left out!
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.