Star Wars Lore Episode CL – The Life of Leia Organa
On the ancient Sith homeworld of Moraband, during the Clone Wars, Grand Master Yoda sought to discover the secrets of immortality. The culmination of which allowed him to retain his identity after death. However, Yoda also saw glimpses into the future and heard some of his final words. Little did he know what the future would really hold and what “there is another Skywalker” really meant. Today we’ll be taking a look at the other Skywalker in question, through every high and low…
The Making of a Princess
Away from the destruction of Order 66 and the subsequent Great Jedi Purge, Leia Amidala Skywalker was born moments after her twin brother on the isolated planetoid of Polis Massa. However, given the death of her biological mother and her status as the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia was separated from Luke to live on Alderaan. While everyone just assumed she was one of many children left orphaned by the Clone Wars, Queen Breha and her husband, Senator Bail Organa, raised Leia as the heiress of Alderaan’s Royal Family. As such, the youngster was taught to appreciate the planet’s people, especially its workers. Leia was also influenced by several aunts, who gave her etiquette lessons and lectures on maintaining a beautiful appearance. Despite her love for each aunt, Leia tended to ignore their ideologies. In her mind, she would never be moulded into a simpering princess who only sought a ravishing husband. Often frustrated by her trivial role, Leia would sneak away whenever possible to eavesdrop on important conversations. Consequently, the princess discovered the true merciless and cold nature of Wilhuff Tarkin, despite being told to stay away from the Grand Moff by her adoptive father. Following in the footsteps of Bail, Leia later delved into politics, becoming a junior legislator by the tender age of fourteen.
Fun Fact: Given her royal status and risk of abduction, the princess’ family deemed it a necessary precaution to assign the sixteen-year-old a personal martial instructor. To no surprise, Leia thoroughly enjoyed the intensity of the training and the break it gave her away from etiquette lessons.
Eventually, against the protests of her aunts, Leia took her adoptive father’s place in the Imperial Senate to become one of the youngest senators ever elected. However, she soon realised that the Senate was nothing more than a facade. As a result, Organa noted her grievances in order to address the Emperor directly. But when confronted by Sidious, the young senator crumbled under his disturbing and inherently evil nature. During the very same encounter, Leia met the Emperor’s right hand man, Lord Vader, unaware of their blood ties. Refusing to accept the Empire’s cruel actions though, Organa helped those suffering across the galaxy whenever possible. She even rescued a Wookiee orphan from the ruins of a village destroyed by Imperial forces. This passion eventually led Leia to the Alliance to Restore the Republic. With the experience of successfully aiding the Rebels once before, which she achieved alongside the crew of the Ghost, Organa looked forward to enacting her strong sense of leadership and fearlessness against the Empire on a more permanent basis.
The First Steps to Freedom
Following a daring mission to steal plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon, Leia decided to take action. She volunteered to transport the blueprints aboard her ambassadorial vessel, the Tantive IV, against the wishes of her adoptive father. Bail had reason to worry. Before Leia could reach Alderaan, Imperial forces led by Darth Vader boarded the craft. They quickly lay waste to the Rebel troopers, before capturing the princess. Leia’s claim that the ship was on a diplomatic mission was snuffed by the Dark Lord, who had her transported to the Death Star. Unbeknownst to the Empire, she had already dispatched astromech droid R2-D2 and his companion, C-3PO, to Tatooine below, where they would transfer the vital schematics to an old friend of her father’s, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
As a prisoner aboard the Empire’s battlestation, Organa faced terrible torture. However, not even a mind probe-equipped interrogator droid made her reveal the location of the Rebel base. The Empire weren’t going to give up, though. When the Death Star entered the Alderaan system, Tarkin threatened to destroy the princess’ homeworld if she did not cooperate. Leia reluctantly confessed that the Rebel base was on Dantooine. Seemingly unfazed by the admission, Tarkin continued with the attack, confirming Leia’s early suspicions of his evil nature. Within a matter of seconds, Alderaan was blown into smithereens. Everyone Leia had fought for in the Galactic Senate, all the people she would one day rule as queen, her friends, her aunts, her mother, her father were suddenly no more. It was a shocking turn of events that only fuelled her quest to overturn the Empire.
Faced with execution, Leia’s situation looked dire. However, as it turned out, R2-D2 had managed to deliver her important message to Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine, resulting in her rescue. While Chewbacca, Han Solo, and Luke infiltrated Leia’s cell block, Kenobi deactivated the Death Star’s tractor beam. Their escape from the battlestation wasn’t plain sailing by any means, though. As well as being saved by R2-D2 from the closing walls of the trash compactor, Obi-Wan sacrificed himself at the blade of Darth Vader to allow the group’s departure. A tracking device placed upon the Millennium Falcon, however, led the Empire to Yavin 4, where the Rebel base legitimately lay. Racing against time, the Rebels analysed the Death Star blueprints to locate any structural weaknesses. Then, following a General Jan Dodonna debriefing, the Alliance put their plans into action. Leia could only watch from the command center as her friends and colleagues carried out the seemingly impossible mission. Her nerves only greatened as the Death Star prepared to fire. But against all odds, with the help of Han and Chewbacca, Luke managed to fire a proton torpedo into the battlestation’s exhaust port, destroying it completely.
When the surviving Rebel pilots returned from successfully turning the Empire’s greatest weapon into nothing more than a layer of dust orbiting Yavin, they were celebrated in a grand ceremony. Leia, wearing an Alderaanian gown, personally honoured Han and Luke for their bravery. However, still deeply affected by the loss of her home planet, the princess requested a moment of silence to proceed the celebrations. Shortly afterwards, the Rebel Alliance departed Yavin 4.
On the Front Foot
Due to her part in the destruction of the Death Star, the Galactic Empire issued a 10,000,000-credit bounty on Leia. However, the princess wouldn’t allow herself to sit back while her people suffered. She enlisted the help of Evaan Verlaine and R2-D2, as a result, in her quest to rescue the survivors of Alderaan’s destruction. Against the wishes of General Dodonna, who feared for Leia’s safety, they eventually located the Alderaan Enclave in the Sullust system. The mission wasn’t without its problems, but Organa and her colleagues managed to escort the survivors to safety, resulting in a large celebration. Unfortunately, the successful relief effort was little compensation for the destruction of Leia’s homeworld.
Later, alongside Solo, Skywalker, R2-D2 and C-3PO, Leia headed to the world of Cymoon 1 to destroy an Imperial weapons factory. The crew disguised themselves as bodyguards to infiltrate the base, though they quickly revealed themselves to be Rebels once inside. After rigging the power core in the factory’s central power station, Leia and company were alerted to the arrival of Vader. Luke engaged the Dark Lord, while Organa and Solo boarded an All-Terrain Armoured Transport walker, which they used to blast their way out of the facility. Unfortunately, Vader caught up with the hijacked walker, using his lightsaber to destroy its legs. From the rubble, however, the crew managed to escape Cymoon 1 with their lives, as well as group of Imperial slaves. What’s more, the Empire failed to prevent the reactor’s meltdown, rendering the mission a success. This marked the second of a string of small but important victories over the Empire. One subsequent mission even had her wield a lightsaber! With each passing second spent together, Leia and Han couldn’t help but form a close bond, even if they couldn’t stand one another from time to time.
On the Run
Around 3 ABY, the Rebel Alliance relocated to Hoth, a remote ice planet in the Outer Rim Territories. However, their isolation was soon discovered. While scanning each corner of the galaxy, and everything in-between, an Imperial probe droid alerted Vader and the Imperial fleet to the Rebellion’s location. Organa played a pivotal role in the evacuation which followed, ordering pilots and their ships to leave the world at once. She too fled once Echo Base became overrun, escaping aboard the Millennium Falcon alongside C-3PO, Solo and Chewbacca. Unfortunately, due to a damaged hyperdrive, the freighter was unable to escape the system and the Imperial blockade, forcing Han to treacherously pilot through a nearby asteroid field.
Somehow, the ship and its crew survived the navigation, escaping the Empire in the process. The Falcon touched down in a gaping cavern belonging to a particularly large asteroid, where Solo prepared to make repairs. While helping, Leia and Han found themselves exceptionally close, leading to a passionate kiss. Despite this, the princess withdrew, conflicted by her emotions: after all, she did call him a “stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder” only hours beforehand. Her reflection was shortened by a sudden and violent shake in the cave. As it turned out, the cave was actually a giant space slug, known as an exogorth. The Millennium Falcon barely escaped its grasp, before running back into the Empire. Without the necessary repairs, the Falcon could not make a jump through hyperspace, forcing Solo to think outside the box. The smuggler came up with the ingenious plan to land on the backside of the Avenger’s command bridge, where he would shut down all systems to avoid detection. The plan was executed flawlessly, fooling all but one – that being bounty hunter Boba Fett. Tasked with delivering Han to crime lord Jabba the Hutt, he closely followed the crew to the Bespin system.
Arriving on the immense gas giant, the crew were greeted by Lando Calrissian, who agreed to repair the Falcon’s hyperdrive. Despite this, Leia was very sceptical of Han’s old friend, feeling he was a little too friendly. Her gut feeling would prove true, as Lando had secretly made a deal with Vader to hand over the Rebels. Caught off-guard, and overpowered, Leia and her party were captured. Vader had an overarching goal, however; he planned to use the Rebels to lure Luke. In addition to this plan, he aimed to freeze the youngster in carbonite for transportation to the Emperor. There was just one catch: he wasn’t sure if Skywalker would survive the carbon freezing process. Consequently, the Dark Lord tested the dangerous procedure on Han. Leia could only watch as the smuggler was lowered into the freezing pit. Not knowing if she would ever see Solo alive again, she confessed her love for him. As smug as always, Han claimed he already knew.
Solo managed to survive the freezing process, and so was handed over to Boba Fett as a reward. However, while the remaining Rebels were being escorted to Vader’s ship, Lando had his security forces intervene. Despite this, Leia could not prevent Fett from leaving the planet with her frozen lover, nor could she warn Luke of his impending trap. Following an unsuccessful duel with Vader, which left him unarmed to say the very least, Organa sensed his location, seemingly out of instinct. The Rebels quickly halted their escape, as a result, and rescued the wounded Jedi. And thanks to Lando, the Millennium Falcon evaded pursuing TIE fighters with a hyperspace jump, which they used to rendezvous with the Rebel fleet.
With Han frozen in carbonite and held on Tatooine, Leia, Lando, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO took it upon themselves to rescue him. Following her allies, Organa posed as bounty hunter Boushh to infiltrate Jabba the Hutt’s Palace. She collected a bounty of 35,000 credits for handing over the wanted Chewie, before sneaking away to release Solo from his carbonite coffin. The lovers were ecstatic to see one another once more. However, the joy was short lived, as both were caught by the Hutt crime lord. Apparently, he knew Leia was disguised as Boushh the entire time. Consequently, Han joined Chewbacca in a cell, while Organa was forced to serve Jabba as a slave girl. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the princess was forced to wear a very demeaning outfit, which was collared and chained to the slug’s throne at all times.
Thankfully, all was not lost, as Skywalker entered the palace to bargain for his friends’ lives. Following a failed attempt to kill the Jedi with his pet rancor, Jabba ordered for Skywalker, Solo and Chewbacca’s execution in the Great Pit of Carkoon – a large depression within the Dune Sea of Tatooine which housed a sarlacc. The Hutt crime lord was known for his ominous chuckle, but it would be Leia and her companions who would have the last laugh. Their grand plan began with R2-D2, who launched Luke’s lightsaber towards the Jedi. Amidst the ensuing chaos, Leia destroyed the controls of the Khetanna sail barge, plummeting the vessel into darkness. She then used her chain to choke Jabba to death. The gangster’s body was later engulfed in the destruction of the Khetanna, all while the Rebels sped off.
The Battle of Endor
When reunited with the Rebel fleet, Leia helped organise a plan to destroy the second Death Star – another Imperial battlestation capable of destroying entire planets. She volunteered to assist Solo’s ground team on Endor to deactivate the Death Star’s deflector shield, allowing space fighters to enter the incomplete structure and destroy its main reactor. Part one of the plan was to land on the forest moon, which they achieved after hijacking an Imperial shuttle, the Tydirium. Unfortunately, part two of the plan never ran as smoothly: as the group touched down, they ran into Imperial scout troopers, resulting in an intense speeder chase through the moon’s lush forests. Partway through, Leia was separated from her brother. She regained consciousness at the behest of an Endor native, the Ewok Wicket, who quickly befriended her. When led to Bright Tree Village, Leia encountered C-3PO, who the Ewoks worshiped as a god. As a result, the droid was able to free Han, Luke, Chewie, and R2-D2 from captivity. However, Skywalker wouldn’t stay in the village for long. He decided it was time to leave his friends to face Darth Vader one final time. Before departing, he told Leia of her true parentage, and that he was her brother. Organa wasn’t shocked by the revelation. Instead, she seemed at peace, claiming she had always known. The following day, Leia - as brave as ever - fought alongside the rest of Solo’s ground team to infiltrate the shield generator. Even in the face of injury and capture, she helped the Rebels complete their goal, allowing Lando Calrissian, Nien Nunb, and Wedge Antilles to destroy the second Death Star. Reunited with Luke, the Alliance and their Ewok friends celebrated the battlestation’s destruction, the death of Emperor Palpatine, and the redemption of Anakin Skywalker long into the night. As did the rest of the galaxy.
A New Republic
The destruction of the second Death Star may have marked the beginning of the end for the Empire, but their fate wasn’t sealed until a year later, in the Battle of Jakku. Following the signing of the Galactic Concordance - a peace treaty which officially ended the Galactic Civil War - Leia married Han. Together, they had a son named Ben, who was strong in the Force just like his mother and uncle. Subsequently, she had Ben train under Luke as part of the new generation of Jedi. Leia would later regret this decision, however. Struggling to control his emotions and obsession with Darth Vader, Ben’s young and fragile mind was irrevocably corrupted by Snoke, the Supreme Leader of the First Order. Taking on the name Kylo Ren, he massacred Luke’s generation of Jedi, leaving no survivors. Leia and Han each blamed themselves for their son’s fall to the dark side, and so headed their separate ways. Likewise, Luke disappeared into exile.
Twenty-three years following the Battle of Jakku, Organa joined the Galactic Senate of the New Republic, once more representing the Alderaan sector. However, she soon realised that the new senate was no better than its predecessor. Leia’s love for politics slowly dissipated, as a result, so she vowed to quit at the end of her senatorial term. Despite this, she reluctantly ran for First Senator at the behest of her colleagues. The newly formed post wielded considerable power over the economy and military, which began to peak her interest. Leia’s campaign was going to plan until a close friend revealed her true parentage to the Galactic Senate, which effectively destroyed her career. Following her resignation, Organa organised a meeting with several New Republic personnel, including Nien Nunb and Admiral Ackbar. They concurred that the Senate was too preoccupied with pretty squabbles to defend the people they represented. With that, Leia announced the formation of a new paramilitary organisation: the Resistance.
A New Enemy
As tensions rose between the Resistance and the First Order, Leia sought out Poe Dameron, an incredible pilot whose skills reminded her of Luke. Poe quickly became one of Organa’s most-trusted operatives. Because of this, she tasked Poe with locating Lor San Tekka, an old ally who possessed a map to her brother. Unfortunately, the Resistance weren’t alone in their quest to locate the only remaining Jedi. As a result, the First Order wiped out Tuanul, destroyed Tekka, and captured Dameron, though they weren’t able to obtain the map, which was hidden inside the pilot’s astromech droid – BB-8. Leia responded immediately to the news by dispatching her aide, Korr Sella, to Hosnian Prime, where she could hopefully convince the Senate to finally take action against the First Order. However, before the negotiations could reach a conclusion, the successor state of the Galactic Empire fired their very own superweapon, Starkiller Base. In the blink of an eye, the Hosnian system was destroyed. History had repeated itself, though this time multiple planets had perished.
In a race to apprehend BB-8, the warring factions came to blows on Takodana. Due to the skills of Dameron and his squadron of X-wing pilots, the Resistance managed to drive back the First Order. Despite failing to claim the astromech unit, however, the First Order had kidnapped one of their enemy’s greatest assets, Rey. Leia and Han reunited after years of separation, in the aftermath of the battle. Despite everything that had happened between them, they still deeply cared for one another. Unfortunately, they couldn’t reminisce for long. Back on D’Qar, the Resistance formulated a plan to destroy Starkiller Base before it could destroy them, which involved two stages: firstly, Han, Chewie, and Finn – a defected stormtrooper – would infiltrate Starkiller Base to rescue Rey and lower its planetary shields, allowing for stage two, where Resistance pilots would attack and destroy the superweapon’s thermal oscillator, causing a massive implosion. Before departing, Leia told Han to bring their son home, sensing Ben was still good at heart. They embraced one final time, not knowing what lay ahead for Solo. The mission went almost exactly to plan, resulting in the destruction of Starkiller Base. The blow to the First Order was only worsened when Rey tracked down Luke on the ancient world of Ahch-To. Despite the passing of Han at the hands of Ben, there was finally hope for the galaxy…
Now it’s time for this week’s question: do you think Leia should have learned the ways of the Force? Let me know in the comments below.