Star Wars: Princess Leia explained

In Star Wars, Princess Leia became one of the greatest sci-fi characters in cinema history, played to perfection by the late Carrie Fisher.

Star Wars: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in original trilogy

Princess Leia is a badass, and any statement suggesting otherwise is plain wrong. She acted as one of the central characters in the original Star Wars movie trilogy, subtly subverting the ‘damsel in distress’ trope way back in the 1970s.

Played by Carrie Fisher, Leia also returned in the sequel trilogy where she had a key role prior to the actor’s death late in 2016. Fisher’s performance gave Leia life, and she is one of the most important, recognised, and beloved Star Wars characters to ever come from George Lucas’s alien galaxy.

However, her story is a long and complex one so there’s a good chance that even Star Wars veterans might not know every detail about her. We’re here to rectify that, with our chronological guide to everything you need to know about Princess Leia.

Who is Princess Leia?

Princess Leia is the daughter of Anakin Skywalker (aka, the fearsome Star Wars villain Darth Vader) and the sister of Luke Skywalker. While Luke was sent to Tatooine to hide him from the eyes of Emperor Palpatine and the Galactic Empire, a newly born Leia was sent to Alderaan.

There, she was adopted into the royal family of Alderaan, and became the daughter of the influential senator Bail Organa and his wife Breha Organa.

Star Wars: Princess Leia in Obi-Wan Kenobi series

Princess Leia in Obi-Wan Kenobi series

During her time on Alderaan, Princess Leia was abducted by Sith Inquisitors who were on the hunt for the exiled Jedi mater, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The recent Disney Plus Star Wars series Obi-Wan Kenobi was as much Princess Leia’s story as Obi-Wan’s, and it followed this story as he travelled the galaxy and faced up against danger to save her from peril.

During her abduction she was interrogated by Reva, before being rescued by Obi-Wan who smuggled her out of the Imperial base and eventually into safety. She was returned to Alderaan and her adoptive parents, having formed a strong connection with Obi-Wan. Upon her return, and through her childhood and teenage years, the princess then learnt important political skills which she would later use to help the Rebellion.

Star Wars: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in original trilogy

Princess Leia in the original trilogy

Following in the footsteps of her father, Princess Leia became an important figure in the Rebellion as they fought against the Galactic Empire. She came into possession of the Death Star plans acquired by Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso.

In possession of the plans, which she gave to the trusty Star Wars droid R2-D2, she was pursued and captured by Darth Vader who took her in for interrogation to learn what she knew. R2-D2 had managed to esacpe with the Death Star plans and a message recorded for Obi-Wan Kenobi, once again asking for his help.

Luke Skywalker discovered the message, and found Obi-Wan Kenobi. With the help of Han Solo and Chewbacca, the team boarded the Star Wars ship Millennium Falcon to save Princess Leia. Disguised as Stormtroopers, the group saved the Princess from her interrogation cell on the Death Star, eventually returning her to the Rebellion along with the Death Star plans, but not before Obi-Wan was killed by Vader.

Along with other Rebellion leaders like Mon Mothma, Leia helped to co-ordinate the assault on the Death Star which culminated in its destruction.

Star Wars: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in original trilogy

Princess Leia continued to co-ordinate Rebellion efforts as their battle against the Galactic Empire progressed. She escaped from the attack on Hoth with Han Solo (who she had begun to form a romantic connection with). The pair were separated when Solo was captured by Star Wars bounty hunter Boba Fett and given to Jabba the Hutt as a trophy.

Princess Leia then worked with Luke to create a plan to break Solo out of Jabba’s palace. She disguised herself as a bounty hunter to gain entry, but was eventually discovered and temporarily enslaved by the evil Jabba. She killed Jabba while Luke rescued Han, by strangling him with the chain he kept her on.

Then, Leia and Solo were reunited and they were heavily involved on the ground mission on the forest moon of Endor to deactivate the Death Star II’s shields so that it could be destroyed. This was a success, and with the death of Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader, and the destruction of the Death Star, the Galactic Empire crumbled. Luke then revealed that she was his sister, and that she too was Force-sensitive and had the potential to become a Jedi.

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Princess Leia in-between the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy

In-between the fall of the Galactic Empire and the rise of the First Order, Leia was trained to be a Jedi by her brother Luke, however her training was left incomplete.

She also married Han Solo, and gave birth to Ben Solo. Young Ben Solo was also mentored by Luke Skywalker, however he turned to the dark side of the Force (and into Kylo Ren) when Luke had a vision and was poised to kill him. Her marriage with Solo did not survive this, and the pair separated and her relationship with her brother Luke also broke down.

As the First Order became the dominant power in the Galaxy, Leia became the leader of the Resistance with her experience as a senior figure in the Rebellion.

Star Wars: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in sequel trilogy

Princess Leia in the sequel trilogy

In the sequel trilogy, Leia becomes a mentor to the young Rey while also directing the Resistance as a general. Throughout the war with the First Order, her health declines and she is injured while battling in space.

She initially recovered from this, but with the death of her former husband, her brother Luke, and the increasing evil of her son Kylo Ren, she becomes increasingly weak. She manages to continue giving Rey important training in her use of the Force and her lightsaber skills, before reaching out to her son through the Force to ask him to return to the light.

This exertion proves too much for Leia, and with the last of her strength gone, she died. However, in contacting her son she played an important role in his final decision to return to the light and help Rey defeat Palpatine and the Final Order.

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So, that’s all you need to know about Princess Leia from her birth to her death. Of course, there’s plenty more Star Wars to learn about about, so why not check out our guide to the best Star Wars scenes, or keep up to date with Andor by taking a look at our guide to the Andor season 2 release date, the Andor season 1 recap, or our explainers on the Andor cast of characters including Luthen Rael, Syril Karn, and Dedra Meero.