Padmé Amidala is one of the most important characters in Star Wars and an excellent leader who has only improved over her time in canon. The politician became Queen of Naboo at the age of twelve and was beloved by her people, later serving them on the Galactic Senate, proving to be an adored, effective, and determined politician.
Yet, not every political move she made was universally accepted. She did some questionable things in Star Wars as a political figurehead. There were many, many instances, though, where she proved her worth as a terrific leader.
10 Great: Persistence In “Pursuit Of Peace”
Adamantly trying to stop the Republic Military Enhancement Bill’s passing which would see five million more troops commissioned for war, Padmé, with help from Bail Organa, attempted to rally Senators, with little success due to threats from bounty hunters hired by Dooku.
Despite assassination attempts and Organa’s injury, Padmé gave an impassioned, brilliantly delivered speech to the Galactic Senate, bringing many Senators to her cause, risking her life to detail the effects of war on the average citizen. Even when the bill was passed, she immediately drafted counter-legislation showing her relentlessness, leading the cause by example. She continuously proved herself to be a thorn in Palpatine’s side, with this being a key moment in the tense relationship that was alluded to in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
9 Questionable: The Ion Pulse Canon
After the Invasion of Naboo, the planet had to recover. Padmé led this effort as Queen, working tirelessly. However, the topic of planetary defense weapons brought tension and divisiveness to the planet at the time. Padmé eventually installed an ion pulse cannon.
It actually does show a sense of great leadership that she made this decision despite it being impossible to please everyone. But, what makes it questionable is how others viewed it on Naboo. It ruined her relationship with Panaka, who, like many others, thought the planet needed stricter defenses. Meanwhile, people like Padmé’s parents were appalled to see any weapons like that on the planet.
8 Great: Peace Mission To Raxus
“Heroes On Both Sides” is arguably one of the most underrated Clone Wars episodes/arcs. It highlighted the fact that the Separatists aren’t inherently evil and that they, too, are being manipulated. It also furthered Ahsoka and Padmé’s friendship.
In this episode, Padmé goes to the Separatist Senate on Raxus on a peace mission, putting herself in harm’s way to try and arrange a peaceful end to the war with Separatist Senators. Had it not been for the interference of the usual suspects—Grievous, Dooku, and Palpatine’s—a peaceful end to the war would have been possible thanks to Padmé’s efforts.
7 Questionable: Always In Amongst The Action
Many do believe a leader should lead the military charge and lead by example. However, as a political leader, many would argue that constantly getting involved in battles is not the best thing for a planet.
Padmé is a unique politician regarding her skill, leadership qualities, and care for her people and the people of the Galaxy. But, seeing her in the thick of the action in the Clone Wars on planets like Mon Cala, constantly putting her life in danger, and even acting rather nonchalantly at the threat of assassination on occasion may not be what her people want to see.
6 Great: Leadership Of The Handmaidens
The Naboo Royal Handmaidens have a key role alongside the Monarch of Naboo, protecting them and being close to them. Padmé had a great relationship with her handmaidens, being close friends with the likes of Sabé, her body double.
Padmé encouraged her handmaidens to befriend and learn from one another—not to simply act like one another, but to be individuals. Perhaps the best example of her leading them comes when she was no longer Queen and sends Sabé and Tonra to Tatooine to try and rescue Shmi Skywalker and end the slave trade there. Padmé did not just lead in the world of politics, but she inspired the handmaidens, a crucial aspect of her life as Queen and Senator. After Padmé’s death, Sabé went out in the Galaxy to seek the truth about Padmé’s death, eventually encountering Darth Vader in that search.
5 Questionable: Faith In Jar Jar
Jar Jar Binks rose through the ranks of Galactic politics to become a representative of Naboo in the Galactic Senate, taking Padmé’s place when she wasn’t available during the events of Attack of the Clones.
While their friendship is sweet, Padmé’s faith and trust in the abilities of Jar Jar is misplaced when she suggests he take her place in the Senate in her absence. His choice to give emergency powers to Palpatine and the ease with which he was manipulated into believing Padmé would have supported the Grand Army of the Republic when she was fighting against it proves his lack of capability to hold such power.
4 Great: Mid-Rim Co-Operation Motion
Padmé’s ongoing trilogy of novels by E.K. Johnston is great and a must-read for any fan of the character who wants to love her more. In the novel Queen’s Shadow, Padmé undoubtedly has one of the most brilliant leadership moments in her early days as a Senator.
After a seismic catastrophe threatened to plummet the world of Bromlarch into starvation, a plan was put in place by Count Dooku to give the planet corporate aid Trade Federation, like the Invasion of Naboo, helped by Palpatine’s deliberate apathy towards the situation. Padmé refused to accept this fare for the planet. Over three sleepless days, she drafted the Mid-Rim Co-Operation Motion, which would save and repair Bromlarch while also providing help to other Mid-Rim planets. It was pure brilliance from Padmé, frustrating Palpatine and the Trade Federation.
3 Questionable: Her Relationship With Anakin
The most questionable aspect of Padmé’s status as a leader and her life, in general, was her romance with Anakin. Their love was real, and, at times, beautiful, but it also created some serious galactic complications.
Having a secret relationship for so long could have caused a lot of problems; many enemies could have used it against both Anakin and Padmé and against the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic on a larger scale. While it never seemed to affect her ability as a leader, it very well could have.
Padmé’s decision to go through with a secret romance of that magnitude at such a crucial, vulnerable time in the Galaxy can definitely be questioned. It also proved to be a key factor in Anakin’s conversion to the Dark Side, with their relationship playing perfectly into Palpatine’s plans.
2 Great: Not Backing Down From Trade Federation
If Padmé’s time in politics taught audiences anything about the character, it is that she is totally fearless, and, as Queen, she proved this in her refusal to back down and surrender to the demands of the Trade Federation.
Invading her planet and endangering her people was never going to be taken lightly. Padmé stood up to the Viceroy and his troops, pulling out all the stops and fighting for her planet. At the very beginning of the prequel trilogy, Padmé refuses to sign their treaty, immediately letting fans know she is no pushover; she is a strong leader despite the tragic end that the Star Wars character would eventually meet.
1 Great: Joining Together Nabooians & Gungans
Perhaps Padmé’s greatest act as Queen came during the Invasion of Naboo when she revealed her true self to everyone and convinced Boss Nass to unite the Gungan’s with the Nabooian people.
There had been tension between the Gungan’s and the Naboo for centuries. Ignoring any sense of arrogant pride, Padmé knelt in front of Boss Nass, and the two unified in the fight to preserve and protect Naboo. Padmé shed her disguise as a handmaiden, revealing herself to everyone, inspiring trust from Nass and the Gungan’s, and it was perhaps her most powerful moment as leader of Naboo.