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"I see it now. Padmé is dead. But you wear her face. Speak with her voice. You're the queen's shadow… A handmaiden from Naboo."
―Darth Vader to Sabé[4]

The Naboo Royal Handmaidens, or simply handmaidens, were a group of young female handmaidens chosen as aides to the Queen of the planet Naboo. Responsible for assisting the Queen with everyday tasks, they also served as her bodyguards and those chosen to join the entourage often closely resembled the current queen, allowing them to function as decoys should the need arise. The tradition of using handmaidens as protection and security for royal leaders originated generations prior to the Invasion of Naboo, during more uncertain times.


"As her handmaidens, sometimes protecting her also means protecting her secrets."
―Dormé, to Moteé[5]

The Naboo Royal Handmaidens assisted the sovereign with everyday tasks including hair, makeup, and clothing. However, handmaidens were often trusted by their monarchs as close friends in addition to playing important security roles as bodyguards, which required working closely with the Royal Naboo Security Forces. Each handmaiden was trained in self-defense and marksmanship and would carry a small blaster pistol.[6]


Reviving the tradition[]

"They gave up their families and their names and their reputations, and they did it willingly, because they believe in your idea of what we could be. You trained us and gave us the ability to defend ourselves. We have worked to become a fluid, adaptable group, and we are powerful, Captain. Even if it's not the kind of power you are accustomed to."
―Amidala talks to Panaka about the handmaidens[1]

The handmaiden Sabé is disguised as the sovereign while Queen Amidala is dressed as a handmaiden to Sabé's left.

The tradition of royal leaders using handmaidens as bodyguards and protection originated generations before the Invasion of Naboo, during more uncertain times.[7] Handmaidens had fallen into history prior to the election of Queen Padmé Amidala, leaving monarchs to take on a single handmaiden who did not work as a bodyguard. However, Captain Panaka proposed reviving the tradition. It was Panaka's intention to choose one girl[1] who had a close physical appearance to the queen, allowing the handmaiden to pose as Amidala and serve as her decoy while the true sovereign would be in disguise.[6] Such a practice had not been in effect since the Gungan-Naboo dispute.[1]

Amidala disliked other people being at risk for her own safety but realized it was unavoidable if she was to be queen. To Panaka's surprise but approval, she suggested that multiple handmaidens would better serve to hide her amongst their numbers. Several of those selected as her handmaidens had features in common with their queen, allowing for more than one to potentially take her place, but one in particular would be her primary decoy. Five young women were chosen. They all adopted names similar to Padmé's own—Eirtaé, Rabé, Sabé, Saché, and Yané—to confuse individuals not keeping track of them.[1]

Amidala's handmaidens were trained in defense and security by Panaka.[8] They wore matching hooded outfits in order to conceal their identities, with billowing cloaks that allowed them to conceal weapons used to defend the queen in case of an attack.[9] To the dismay of Panaka, the Queen and her Handmaidens took to planning their affairs without his insight. They all took breathing exercises known to Sabé, ensuring they could all hide their emotions, and created a special tone of voice, so they could all act as Queen whenever needed. The only Handmaiden unable to act as Amidala was Saché, due to her young age.[1]

Invasion of Naboo[]

"I would be dead without each of you. And Naboo would be under the heel of those who would abuse it. I owe you my thanks and more, and so does the planet you have served."
―Padmé Amidala, to her handmaidens[10]

Panaka led Amidala's security team during the Invasion of Naboo.[11] During the crisis, Queen Padmé Amidala frequently exchanged places with Sabé, who posed as the Queen in her makeup and black traveling gown while the real Amidala dressed in the same flame-colored robes as her handmaidens. The deception allowed the "handmaiden" Padmé to escort the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn into Mos Espa in a simple guise when her party was stranded on Tatooine, while her decoy remained on the royal starship.[2] Saché and Yané remained behind on Naboo.[1]

Eirtaé and Rabé escorted Amidala to Tatooine as well as Coruscant, and watched as she plead Naboo's case to the Galactic Senate. Rabé also helped to deceive Anakin Skywalker into thinking that Padmé was out on an errand while she was actually present in the room as Queen Amidala. Later on the queen's return to Naboo, they were reunited with Yané and Saché. The handmaidens took part in the mission to re-capture the Royal Palace from the Trade Federation. Sabé stood in as the decoy queen in her royal battle dress, playing a major role in the success of the operation after Amidala was captured.[2]

Following the end of the invasion, several paintings and stain glass windows of the handmaidens were commissioned for the Theed Royal Palace, wearing their flame-colored robes. One of them included a scene with Amidala taking part in a royal procession with several handmaidens surrounding her, at least one of which was carrying a canopy above Amidala which the former handmaiden, Saché, took issue with stating that she didn't think the artist understood what it was they did.[10]

The Senator's handmaidens[]

"You don't need the same type of protection that you did as queen. The most important requirement for us was a double for your face before the rest of our skills were considered. Your new aides don't need to be limited to your appearance, as long as they can double for your brain. You need confidants you trust completely. You need people to listen at parties. You need people who fade into the background and pick up on what your opponents are trying to hide from you. If you are in dire straits, you can call in Sabé, but for everyday operations, two or three loyal handmaidens should be able to cover you."
―Yané, on the role Amidala's new handmaidens would serve[10]

After Amidala became a Galactic Senator representing Naboo in the Republic Senate, handmaidens continued to assist her and serve as decoys when needed, though not to the same extent as when she was queen. At first Amidala was unsure of the idea of bringing handmaidens into the Senate with her, but her handmaidens from her time as Queen convinced her that she would need handmaidens, not mere aides, in the government. Her first three handmaidens as a senator took on the names Versé, Dormé, and Cordé, with Sabé joining Amidala's group as well in an unofficial capacity.[10] Prior to the start of the Clone Wars, Cordé served as Amidala's decoy but was killed, along with Versé, in an assassination attempt aimed at the senator.[3] Amidala later shared private tears with a handmaiden named Duja over Cordé's death.[12]

Dormé witnessed a second assassination attempt on her mistress, by Zam Wesell, which was intercepted by Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padawan Anakin Skywalker, during the night and inquired as to whether Amidala was alright. Dormé also expressed concern when Amidala was ordered by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to return to Naboo under Jedi protection. Before leaving for Naboo with Skywalker, Amidala exchanged goodbyes with Dormé, seeing Dormé crying, Amidala attempted to reassure her but Dormé explained that she wasn't worried for herself but rather was worried that Amidala's assassin would find out she had left Coruscant.[3]

After Amidala married Skywalker and needed to keep it a secret, as Jedi were forbidden to marry, she split her handmaidens into in-residence handmaidens under Dormé and those who helped her in government work, giving her a degree of freedom that let her spend time with Skywalker. Due to the deaths of Versé and Cordé, Dormé hired two new handmaidens, Ellé and Moteé, who took on a more traditional role given to handmaidens and aides than those who had served Amidala previously. During a short period of time spent filling in for Amidala, Sabé found Amidala's new lifestyle to be isolating and upon discovering Amidala and Skywalker's secret marriage, something Amidala had not informed Sabé of herself, she decided to permanently leave Amidala's service and returned to Tatooine to help end slavery there, with her partner Tonra.[13]

During the Clone Wars, following a Separatist terror attack on Coruscant, a handmaiden named Teckla Minnau spoke with Amidala about the effects that the Republic's military spending were having on her family and other families like hers. Shortly after, Amidala delivered a speech to the Senate inspired by her words, which defeated a bill to increase military spending and order more clone troopers.[14] Later, escorting Senator Amidala on a mission to Scipio, Teckla was killed by the bounty hunter Embo while detonating a charge to grant Amidala access to the InterGalactic Banking Clan's Main Vault.[15]

Shortly before the end of the conflict, Moteé was present in the Galactic Senate Chamber when Palpatine declared himself Emperor.[16]

The tradition continues[]


Former Handmaidens of Padmé Amidala join Darth Vader for the battle against Jul Tambor and to save Sabé.

Amidala's immediate successor, Réillata, was an older queen who had served before and brought with her several handmaidens around her own age, as well as a younger handmaiden, her niece, who was present during the Réillata's second coronation. When Amidala returned to Naboo, as part of her first Senate recess, Amidala noted that Réillata's handmaidens were the only ones close enough to hear their private conversation.[10] Her eventual successor Jamillia, was also attended to by a cadre of handmaidens,[3] and Queen Apailana was escorted by her own handmaidens during Amidala's funeral[16] along with several of Amidala's former handmaidens including Sabé.[10]

The tradition had begun to fade by 3 BBY as following the formation of the Galactic Empire the role of queen became more of a figurehead than a ruler but handmaidens still had quality through a series of mental and physical tests that according to Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan would challenge even Imperial Academy cadets.[17] Sabé formed a resistance group in Amidala's honor known as the Amidalans in the name of avenging their former Queen.[18]

Shortly after the death of Emperor Palpatine, two royal handmaidens were present in a meeting between Queen Sosha Soruna and her guest, Leia Organa.[19] They later helped Soruna dress into her flight suit as she prepared to pilot an N-1 starfighter to protect the planet from an Imperial attempt to render Naboo inhospitable, code named Operation: Cinder. When Captain Korro suggested one of the handmaidens take Soruna's place, the queen replied that she could never ask her handmaidens to make a sacrifice she would not make herself.[20]

Behind the scenes[]

The Naboo Royal Handmaidens first appeared in the 1999 film Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, the first installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy.[2]

The concept of a handmaiden decoy originated in George Lucas's rough draft to Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, where two handmaidens named Alana and Mina accompanied Leia to the Chatos Academy.[21] Mina took the princess' place to mislead the Empire when Annikin Starkiller spirited her to safety as the Empire's Space Fortress arrived at Aquilae.[22]


Non-canon appearances[]


Notes and references[]

External links[]

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