After Ellaria Sand stabbed Prince Doran Martell, she becomes the de facto ruler of Dorne.

If she is not of the royal bloodline, why is she allowed to rule?

Wouldn't one of Doran's relatives become the next ruler?

  • Who says she's allowed to rule? She just does. Also, the show's version of inheritance and succession are out the window, especially in Dorne.
    – Möoz
    Apr 7, 2017 at 5:46
  • @Mooz Well, if she just does, then she must have the backing of others to force her way. Is there anything from the books that hints at her having separate support from Doran and Oberon? (I know the books have not caught up to the TV series, but perhaps there are hints in there nonetheless.)
    – RichS
    Apr 7, 2017 at 6:04
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    Cus .....D&D
    – Aegon
    Apr 7, 2017 at 7:16
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    I hate how they assassinated Ellaria's character, turning her into some war-mongering hag. And it is so stupid. "Hurr durr, Oberyn was killed, how do we avenge him? By killing the rest of his family". Okay rant over, I need to go and take deep breaths now
    – Aegon
    Apr 7, 2017 at 7:20
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    The show basically glosses over other houses in Dorne, the factions in Dorne, sort of blends Sunspear with the Water Gardens with Dorne itself, ignores Dornish law, ignores that Doran also has an agenda and schemes and plots (even though they are the same thing), and blends Ellaria Sand with the Sand Snakes even though the Sand Snakes are not her children. As such, the detail of how or why Ellaria could pull off a coup and anyone would take her seriously as a ruler are just .... not there.
    – DariM
    Apr 9, 2017 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


Your question asks about both the show and the books (judging from your tags). In the books, however, Doran Martell is for the time being alive and well. He also has several children who are his direct heirs: Arianne, who is being groomed to succeed him (in Dorne, women have succession rights), Quentyn, and Trystane Martell. Ellaria Sand also apparently has no plans to kill Doran in the books, because Doran is not against taking action against the Lannisters (his inaction in taking revenge against them fueling her murder of him in the show).

In the show, Doran Martell only has one heir: Trystane Martell. Arianne and Quentyn do not appear. You're completely right that Trystane would succeed his father upon his death. However...

Ellaria's daughters, the Sand Snakes, kill Trystane as well, wiping out House Martell.

Ellaria Sand then usurps the power in Dorne. She has no legal claim to the throne, but House Martell's army was apparently as displeased as Ellaria (and House Tyrell) was with Doran's inaction against House Lannister, as they just stand by and watch as Doran is murdered.

You ask how she becomes the "de facto" ruler of Dorne, but you also ask about succession and heirs. If Ellaria had any legal claim to the throne of Dorne, she would be the de jure ruler of Dorne. That is not the case. Becoming de facto ruler of anything does not require a legal claim, as we've seen several times in the series. Remember: "Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less." With the army and House Tyrell on her side, and no obvious legal claimants to the throne, Ellaria becomes the new ruler.

See also this question for more thoughts on how they pulled it off in practice.

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    I love how in the show, they describe the houses to be centuries old, yet pretend that there are only two or three members alive of every great house. No Cadet dynasties, no younger lines, no distant relatives no sirrrrrrrr! The moment a couple of them sniff it, a great house is wiped out
    – Aegon
    Apr 7, 2017 at 7:21
  • @tobiasvl Doran Martell might be (still) alive in the books, but the books only go so far right now. He might be dead once the next book comes out.
    – RichS
    Apr 7, 2017 at 7:24
  • @RichS Indeed he might, but if so, we don't know if or how Ellaria will take over the throne with three heirs in her way.
    – tobiasvl
    Apr 7, 2017 at 7:25
  • @RichS I added some details from the books about Ellaria and Doran's motivations in the books, which in my opinion makes it unlikely your question will become an issue in the books even if Doran dies.
    – tobiasvl
    Apr 7, 2017 at 7:56
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    “If Ellaria had any legal claim to the throne of Dorne, she would be the de jure ruler of Dorne. That is not the case. Becoming de facto ruler of anything does not require a legal claim” — just to make it explicit, “de facto” means “in fact”, and “de jure” “in law”, in High Valyrian. Apr 7, 2017 at 7:57

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