Galadriel was the co-ruler and Lady of Lothlórien alongside her husband, Lord Celeborn, however, neither took royal titles, as they only saw themselves as Guardians of The Golden Wood.
She was the only daughter and youngest child of Finarfin, prince of the Ñoldor and of Eärwen, whose cousin was Lúthien. Her elder brothers were Finrod Felagund, Angrod, and Aegnor. Galadriel was a niece of Fëanor, one of the most important elves of the First Age.
She was one of the greatest of the Eldar in Middle-earth, and surpassed nearly all others in beauty, knowledge, and power. She was also the bearer of Nenya, one of the three Elven rings. Tolkien thought of her, along with Gil-galad the Elven-king, as one of the mightiest and fairest of all the Elves left in Middle-earth.
Galadriel was born in Valinor during the Years of the Trees, before the First Age had even begun. Much of Galadriel's story is confusing, and there are several distinct tales told about her collected in the Unfinished Tales. According to the older account, used in the published Silmarillion, Galadriel was an eager participant and leader in the rebellion of the Ñoldor and their flight from Valinor due to her desire to one day rule over a patch of Middle-earth herself.
She was eager to see Middle-earth, having heard of it from Fëanor, and wanted to rule a realm of her own. She swore no oaths and was like minded with Fingon, son of Fingolfin.
However, separated from Fëanor and his kin, she and her people did not take part in the Kinslaying at Alqualondë. They followed Fingolfin instead and crossed the Helcaraxë in the far north.
Once in Beleriand, she lived nominally with one of her brothers, most likely Finrod, but spent much time at the court of Thingol and Melian in Menegroth, where she arrived in FA 52 and was welcomed because of her family relationship to Thingol's brother Olwë, Galadriel's maternal grandfather. She met Celeborn, a kinsman of Thingol, in Doriath. She also traveled to visit her brother, Finrod, in his realm of Nargothrond multiple times. All three of her brothers were killed during various battles in the First Age.
Galadriel became friends with Melian the Maia who wanted to know the cause of the exile of the Ñoldor. Galadriel only briefly narrated the story, leaving out the death of Finwë, the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, and the burning of the ships at Losgar. She dwelt in Nargothrond with her brother Finrod, and asked him if he would take no wife. But Finrod had taken an oath only for himself, and his beloved was left in Valinor.
She played a relatively insignificant part in the wars of the First Age, as she thought that defeating Morgoth was beyond the power of the Eldar, and when Morgoth was defeated by the coming of the Valar out of the West she, having played no part in the Kinslaying, was offered safe return to Valinor. But Galadriel, being prideful, chose to remain in Middle-earth.
Celeborn and Galadriel traveled first to Lindon, where they ruled over a group of Elves as a fiefdom under Gil-galad. Sometime later, they had a daughter, Celebrían. They moved eastward and established the realm of Eregion, or Hollin, which they ruled under Gil-galad, the High King of the Ñoldor. Eregion, to the west of the Misty Mountains near Moria, was a prosperous kingdom during this time, and had open trade with the Dwarves. Also, during this time, they made contact with a Nandorin settlement in the valley of the Anduin, later to be known as Lothlórien. Subsequently, while Celebrimbor now ruled over Eregion, they left Eregion by way of the mines of Khazad-dûm and became the Lord and Lady of Lothlórien.
Galadriel, Gil-galad, and Cirdan receive the Three Rings of Power.
During the Second Age, the Maia Annatar, the "Lord of Gifts", guided Celebrimbor and the other Ñoldor of Eregion in the creation of the Rings of Power. Galadriel took an immediate distrust to Annatar, and it later turned out that this mistrust was justified, as he was finally revealed to be Sauron. It was she who counseled Celebrimbor in the hiding of the rings, and when Eregion was attacked, Galadriel was entrusted with one of the Three Rings of the Elves. Her ring was Nenya, the Ring of Water.
Conscious of Sauron's power, and wishing to thwart it, she did not openly use the powers of her ring as long as the One Ring was in Sauron's hands. However, during the Third Age, when the One Ring was lost, she put it to good use protecting the borders of her realm, for the powers of her ring were protection, preservation, and concealment from evil.
Through Celebrían's wedding to Elrond, Galadriel was the grandmother of Elladan, Elrohir, and Arwen.
The tales tell little of Galadriel or of Celeborn during many centuries in the Third Age, but after the formation of the White Council in TA 2463 she put forth her might in opposition of Sauron. She played a pivotal role in the formation of the Council, though her counsel to put Gandalf at its head was not followed. After Sauron was ousted from his fortress of Dol Guldur, Lórien kept vigilance over the region until the time of the War of the Ring.
During the War of the Ring, Galadriel hosted the Fellowship of the Ring after their escape from the mines of Moria.
Once in Caras Galadhon, Galadriel allowed Frodo and Sam to peer into the Mirror of Galadriel, enabling them to glimpse possible events of the future. She, in turn, was tested when Frodo Baggins later offered to place the One Ring in her keeping. To illustrate what would happen if she accepted, she presented an image of herself corrupted by the ring, declaring, "In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!" In the movie, what she says is different, which is: "In place of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen! Not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Treacherous as the sea! Stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me, and despair!"
Then swiftly she returned to her original form, seemingly smaller and frailer than before, declaring, "I pass the test," refusing the Ring and accepting the fate of diminishing (as the time of the Dominion of Men had come), and returning at last to Valinor. As the Fellowship departed, she gave each member a gift and an Elven cloak, and outfitted the party with boats and supplies. Gimli, in particular, was touched by Galadriel's lordliness and beauty, and asks for one strand of her golden hair as an heirloom of his house; she generously gave him three, which he later set in an impregnable crystal.
Apart from the strands of hair given to Gimli, she gave a Mallorn seed and a small box of earth from her garden to Samwise Gamgee; a green stone set in silver to Aragorn, along with a scabbard for his sword; and a belt each to Boromir, Merry, and Pippin. To Legolas she gave a long, stout bow of the Galadhrim. To Frodo she gave a magical phial, which captured the light of Eärendil's star, without which Frodo and Sam would have been unable to pass through Shelob's lair to complete their quest. After the departure of the Fellowship, Galadriel acted to ensure the success of the quest. It was she who summoned Gwaihir to rescue Gandalf off the peak of Celebdil, and it was she who nursed him back to health, dressing him in white, symbolizing his status as the new leader of the order.
Later, she sent word to Aragorn about the Paths of the Dead, and messages to the Rangers of the North asking for their aid in the War. As Sauron put forth all his power during the end of the War of the Ring, he was aware of the threat of the Elves and their ancient potency, so he sent armies to besiege many of their settlements in the North while simultaneously assailing the major cities of Men and Dwarves. Lórien itself was assaulted three times, but the armies of Dol Guldur were driven back due to the courage of the Elves and the power of Galadriel's Ring.
Galadriel, her husband Celeborn, and Elrond about to leave for Valinor
It is said that the power of her Ring could not be overcome unless Sauron himself would come to do battle. After the fall of Sauron she, with Thranduil of Mirkwood and their elven allies, crossed the Anduin into Dol Guldur, where they tore down its walls and laid bare its pits. She then traveled to Minas Tirith for the wedding of King Aragorn and Lady Arwen, and continued living in Lórien until TA 3021 when she traveled to the Grey Havens and, with the remaining Ring-bearers, took a ship and returned at last to the Undying Lands whence she had come so long ago.
The Lady Galadriel - "Lady of Light" - grandmother of Lady Arwen, is an Elven Queen of extraordinary beauty, with her timeless features and golden river of hair.
Galadriel was highly praised for her beauty, particularly that of her hair, which was a deep and radiant gold, shot with silver. It was said by the elves of Tirion to have ensnared the light of the two trees, Telperion and Laurelin, and possibly to have inspired the creation of the Silmarils by Fëanor. She was also the tallest of elf-women, standing at around 6 feet 4 inches, or 193 centimeters. Because of her wisdom and power, she had very important roles throughout the history of Middle-earth, especially during her time in Eregion and during the War of the Ring. She had a penchant for dressing in the purest white.
She was known, especially in her younger days, as being quite prideful. However, by the end of the Third Age, that pride had been tempered a great deal by age.
[...] and she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor; she was strong of body, mind, and will [...] Even among the Eldar she was accounted beautiful, and her hair was held a marvel unmatched. It was golden like the hair of her father and of her foremother Indis, but richer and more radiant, for its gold was touched by some memory of the starlike silver of her mother; and the Eldar said that the light of the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, had been snared in her tresses.
—Unfinished Tales, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn
She is, however, no mere fey being, but a lady of great power. She bears one of the Great Rings - Nenya - the Ring of Adamant, and with the One Ring in her grasp as well, she would be a mighty match for the Dark Lord Sauron.
Galadriel possessed a tremendous amount of magical powers, and was said to be the greatest of the Ñoldor after Fëanor.
When she still lived in the Undying Lands, she had been a pupil of Yavanna and Aulë, and she later became a friend of Melian the Maia. Hence, it can be deduced that she had learned her powers from these three illustrious personages, though the nature of her magic is still not well-understood.
The vast majority of Galadriel's powers stemmed from the legendary artifact she controlled: Nenya, the Ring of Water. In some tales, she was also depicted with the powers of communicating over vast distances, predicting the future, and even cloaking her mind from other tremendously powerful beings (she once stated that Sauron could not perceive her mind, though she could perceive his). It is also possible that her powers of divination were either derived from or accentuated by her mirror, which could reveal events of the past, present, and future.
However, due to her incredibly enigmatic nature, even the immensely skillful Saruman and an Elf as perceptive as Elrond found it difficult to understand her powers, and they were such to bring doubt to the minds of the non-Elven inhabitants of Middle-Earth. Whatever they might have been, it must still be noted that Galadriel had used them for good: protecting Lórien from any attack (it was said that only Sauron himself could have overcome this protection), and destroying Dol Guldur (a fortress whose power was multiplied by Sauron's magic). Last but not least, Galadriel was also skilled in ósanwe (the ability to communicate with others through thoughts): after the destruction of the One Ring, Galadriel communicated mentally with Elrond and Gandalf on their return journey from Minas Tirith.
Besides her magical powers, Galadriel was also extremely wise and intelligent: she was one of the very few who were not fooled by Sauron in the Second Age, and therefore suggested to Celebrimbor to hide the Three Rings. She also refrained from openly using the powers of Nenya while the One Ring was in Sauron's possession, and only did so after the One Ring was lost (for it was only then that it was safe enough for her to do so). When Frodo offered her the One Ring, Galadriel managed to reject the undeniable temptation, for she was wise enough to know that, though she might start off with good intentions with the One Ring in her possession, she would only become a tyrant as terrible as Sauron in the end. This could be viewed as a testament to her excellent understanding of the seductive nature of power, as well as her awareness of her own personal limitations.
In the movie adaptations, Galadriel was shown to be supremely powerful, possibly even outclassing Saruman and Elrond.
During the time of the Battle of the Five Armies, with Sauron still being weaker than his normal self, Galadriel was depicted to be the most powerful being in Middle-Earth. When she went to Dol Guldur to rescue Gandalf, she destroyed an Orc by channeling her powers through Nenya, which unleashed a wave of power that disintegrated the Orc and lit up the sky for miles. She also seemed to possess miraculous healing powers, being able to bring Gandalf back from the precipice of death with a kiss, though it should be noted this sapped her of much energy.
Besides this, like other mighty Elf-Lords described in the original novel, she could assume a powerful wrathful form that is terrible to behold. As she bore the Ring of Water, her wrathful form was influenced by it, and therefore she took on more aquatic features, like glowing with an aqua-green light, and her robes floated about her as if wet. In this state of anger and strength, Galadriel could channel tremendous power through her phial, which proved to be enough to expunge the nearly fully recovered Sauron from his fortress. Though the battle with Sauron did drain Galadriel of much of her energy, it seemed that she was the only one present who could accomplish the feat as Saruman the White recoiled at the appearance of the Dark Lord and Elrond, even though he possessed the mightiest of the Three Rings, seemed powerless.
During the course of all the movie adaptations, Galadriel was most notably seen to possess vast telepathic powers, being able to communicate with key individuals in Middle-Earth from Lorien, sending them messages (as she did with Gandalf and Elrond) or visions of encouragement (as she did with Frodo).
Galadriel was originally named Artanis ("noble woman") which was her Father-name and Nerwen ("man-maiden"), which was her Mother-name (referring to her height and strength). Galadriel is the Sindarinized version of Telerin Quenya Alatáriel, the name given to her by her lover Celeborn, meaning "maiden crowned with a garland of bright radiance", which referred to her hair.
The name Galadhriel was used outside Lórien by the people who did not know the ancient days and Galadriel's history, confusing her name with the Elvish word galadh ("tree") and the name of the Galadhrim, the people of Lórien.
Names and Titles
She is referred to as The Lady of Lórien, Lady of Light, The Lady of the Galadhrim, or The Lady of the Wood interchangeably. Within the realm of Lothlórien, she was referred to as simply Lady Galadriel or The Lady.
When she and Celeborn were being referred to collectively, they were known as The Lord and Lady.