SPOILER ALERT: There are spoilers below for Marvel Comics’ Princess Leia Mini-Series, proceed with caution.
A funny thing happened as I read and re-read the Marvel Comics Princess Leia 5-part mini-series, the more I read the series the more I became interested in the internal workings of Alderaan’s society. It is hardly surprising given my education as a political scientist that the politics in Star Wars fascinates me. It is interesting to note that with the abandonment of Legends material and the institution of the new canon, there are some things we thought we knew and some logical inferences that we made of this knowledge about how things work in the Star Wars universe. One of these things is Alderaan, in reality based on only canon material our knowledge of Alderaan and her society is rather limited.
One thought occurred to me while I was reading was that it actually makes more sense that Queen Breha was the ruler of Alderaan instead of Senator and Viceroy Bail Organa. For older fans like myself we were first probably introduced to Bail’s father as Prestor in the Star Wars Radio Drama by Brian Daley. In Prestor we had a figure that seemed very much the King of Alderaan.
When George Lucas created the Prequels he brought Bail Organa to the big screen in a rather big way as the Senator from Alderaan. It is interesting to note that it would be very odd for the domestic leader of a world or system to at the same time be a Senator representing that interest on Coruscant. Padme was both but not at the same time. In The Clone Wars series we see plenty of worlds with leaders and senators but never to the best of my recollection one character who filled both roles.
So why do we assume that Bail Organa is both Senator and regent of Alderaan?
Let’s look at how to official sources describe Bail:
DK’s Ultimate Star Wars (Page 64):
“A viceroy of the House Organa on Alderaan, Organa is elected to the Galactic Senate where he befriends like-minded politicians such as Mon Mothma of Chandrila and Padme Amidala of Naboo.”
“Bail Organa, a member of Alderaan’s royal family and the planet’s representative to the Republic Senate, earned respect on Coruscant for his honesty and his commitment to justice. Prior to the Clone Wars, Bail served alongside Senator Padmé Amidala as a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s Loyalist Committee. The two became close friends, and recruited like-minded allies to prevent Palpatine’s alarming grabs for power. At the end of the war, Bail Organa adopted Padmé’s daughter Leia and raised her as an Alderaanian princess. While representing Alderaan in the Imperial Senate, he worked secretly with allies such as Mon Mothma and Ahsoka Tano to assist rebel cells scattered across the galaxy, working towards the day that a unified Rebellion could emerge. Bail died when the Death Star destroyed his homeworld.”
So we know that House Organa is the current royal family on Alderaan, that Bail is a member of it with the title “viceroy.” It is interesting that the databank also describes Leia as “an Alderaanian princess,” and not as “the princess of Alderaan,” one reading of this is that there could be daughters of other branches of House Organa that could similarly be termed princesses.
We have no official canon source saying Bail Organa was the domestic ruler of Alderaan.
There are some tidbits in the Princess Leia comic that could point us to Queen Breha as the true leader of Alderaan and a character that needs to be fleshed out more in canon.
In Princess Leia we meet Evaan Verlaine, an Alderaanian Rebel pilot who becomes the chief aid/confidant to Princess Leia during the series. Evaan was a member of an elite group of Alderaanians as she describes it, “I was one of the lucky Alderanians mentored directly by your mother. She taught me much about the heritage of Alderaan. What she never taught me—what she, rather, earned—was my lifelong respect for the throne.”
Now this tidbit isn’t definitive, but Evaan’s respect for “the trone” is an interesting choice of phrasing. She didn’t say “your family” or “the royal family,” no she said the throne. An implication of this is that Breha was the one sitting on the throne and her taking the time to mentor a new generation of Alderaanian leaders was a major committment and worthy of respect.
In the same issue, Evaan sarcastically address’ Leia as “my queen.” This does something that may seem minor but is later in the series when Leia is referenced as “the crown princess.” This tells us two things. First that on Alderaan royal succession is hereditary and not elected. This is a distinction from planets like Naboo. The second thing is that succession is not gender based. Leia as the crown princess is next in line for the throne. We also learn in the series that Leia does not have any adopted siblings.
There is an interesting exchange between Leia and Bail in the series regarding Breha’s daily duties and presumably Leia’s (as crown princess) to take her place on the throne.
Leia: “I’m sick of languages. What’s the Point? So I can listen to dull ambassadors all day, like Mother does?”
Bail: “Like a Queen does. Soldiers are a thing of Alderaan’s past, as heiress to the throne you’re of its future…”
The image of a ruler meeting ambassador or supplicants would seem to imply rather heavily that the crown rests on Breha’s and not Bail’s brow.
Another contextual clue may be in the person of Jora the Preserver. Jora was the leader of the Alderaanian enclave on Sulust. In this group we see deference and strict obedience to a strong female leader. This isn’t determinitive but it does show us that Alderaanians are either used to or very comfortable following orders from female leaders. In fact Chief Beonel, the leader of the Alder-Espirions (a mixed species group of Alderaanians) is the only male leader we see among the Alderaanian survivors.
At the end of the mini-series we see a rather monumental moment for Leia and the Alderaanian survivors, as Leia abdicates and orders an election of a new Queen. An election in which she endorses Evaan for and Evaan becomes the new leader of the survivors of Alderaan as they head for a new planet.
These closing scenes of the comic are important, because it tells us that Leia doesn’t feel that she would have enough time to be both Queen and Rebel leader. If Leia couldn’t split these two duties it would seem likely that Bail could not split the duties as King and Senator at the same time. The other thing it tells us is that the Queen probably has rather broad powers, Leia seemingly orders a complete change into how the society chooses their leaders, from hereditary succession to election. Is this a one time election with the new House Verlaine continuing to rule whatever planet becomes New Alderaan into the future?
I love that this move allows Leia to honor both the cultural heritage of Alderaan by installing Evaan, who was trained by the Queen and has proven herself to Leia in this series. This allows Leia to fully commit to the Rebellion without feeling the guilt of abandoning her people. Through her actions Leia honors both her father a founder of the Rebellion and her mother, the Last Queen of Alderaan.
In the end while we do not get a definitive answer, based on the description of Breha’s role, Leia’s training and Bail’s role it seems clear to me that the crown of Alderaan rested on Queen Breha’s head.