Reading the answer to a question about Sabé (the Amidala stand-in) I remembered that I always wondered why she ordered the actual queen to scrub R2-D2. There were enough actual servants who could have done it, so why Padmé? If that wasn't enough, after giving the actual queen (Padmé) the order to go away, she tells Panaka to continue with the discussion. How does that make sense?

The significant piece of dialogue:

AMIDALA : Thank you, Artoo Detoo. You have proven to be very loyal...Padme! ...
AMIDALA : (Cont'd) Clean this droid up the best you can. It deserves our gratitude...(to Panaka) Continue, Captain.

Note that this question is two-fold:

  1. Why was Padmé chosen in the first place?
  2. Why would an important meeting with the ship's captain be continued without her?
  • 4
    Darth Jar Jar did a Sith mind trick on her to set up more quiet time with the Queen.
    – Paul
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 22:46
  • 3
    Because the prequels are poorly written.
    – 2540625
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 17:22

6 Answers 6

  1. It underscores the subterfuge - if the "queen" were deferential and reluctant to use a particular handmaiden as a servant, that would raise suspicions. If Padme wanted to be seen as a servant, she would have walk the walk.

  2. I think that Sabé was well-trained enough to handle the situation. They were out of danger, and she could couch any major decision she was pressed for as "I need some time to think about it", huddle with Padme, and there you are. If you've cultivated a habit of consulting your handmaidens anyway, this seems perfectly logical - I suspect that the handmaidens are probably noble-born and highly educated as well.

  • 4
    Sure, if Padmé was never tasked with anything it would raise suspicion. But I would imagine that cleaning astromech is a particularly dirty work. Clearly Sabé could have found better suited camouflage-assignments, right?
    – bitmask
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 16:16
  • 7
    @bitmask In the Army, for everyday activity the soldiers wear basic camouflage. But when they are snipers in a field they wear more complex suits with indigenous items inserted into the suit from the local environment. If you are dealing with someone paying attention, any special behavior will tip off your assassin.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 18:08
  • 24
    You give them a lot of credit, considering they didn't even think to call her something other than her real first name.
    – ruakh
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 0:51
  • 9
    Lucas seems to have a blind spot for names, e.g. Luke Skywalker, the most important person in the galaxy we're trying to conceal... Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 3:32
  • 6
    @ruakh: For all we know, "Padme" might be as common on Naboo as "Mary" in English speaking countries (and its variants in other Christian cultures).
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 20:32

In addition to what Chris stated, it also gave Amidala an more ready excuse to be around the Jedi, Anakin and JarJar in a non-formal environment where discussion might flow more freely. An attendant to the Queen would be expected to be in attendance to the Queen whenever possible and allows little time to just "hang out" as it were in that more free environment. But if she were given a task that would take some time, she could spend time getting to know the travelers more and perhaps gain more of their trust in return.


The decision to ask her to clean the droid seems to have been to give Padmé an opportunity to interact directly with the Queen without it seeming like she's consulting her. Presumably if Padmé had disagreed, she could have shaken her head sadly as she looked at how dirty the droid was.

It's a little clearer in the film's official novelisation

The Queen looked at Qui-Gon. The Jedi did not waver. “You must trust my judgment, Your Highness.”

“Must I?” Amidala asked quietly. She shifted her gaze to her handmaidens, ending with Padmé. The girl had not moved from the Queen’s side, but seemed to remember suddenly she had been given a task to complete. She nodded briefly to the Queen, and moved to take R2-D2 in hand.

Amidala looked back at Qui-Gon Jinn. “We are in your hands,” she advised, and the matter was settled.

It also helps to maintain her subterfuge

Now that I am Padmé, the Queen can command me to perform tasks. I told Sabé she must do this, or it will look suspicious. But does Sabé get just a little pleasure out of telling me to clean up an astromech droid?

Maybe. She's only human. Actually, once I began, I didn't mind the task. I like working with my hands, it takes my mind off the impatience. And after all, the droid saved my life.

Star Wars Journals - Episode 1 #2 - Queen Amidala


I always thought it was Sabe playing a joke on her friend the Queen. The Queen and her handmaidens are supposed to be very close (look at how distraught Padme was when Corde, who wasn't even HER handmaiden was killed) so maybe Sabe felt secure enough in their friendship to make her do dirty work. I know that if my best friend was a noble and I was his servant and we switched for a few weeks, I'd have him on latrine duty from 8 o'clock, day one.

  • 1
    In what way was Cordé not Padmé's (or rather, Senator Amidala's) handmaiden?
    – Martha
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 1:00
  • 1
    I assumed that she was "on loan" from the Queen, because she never has other Handmaidens as a Senator and Palpatine didn't have any either. Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 1:29
  • 3
    Never has other handmaidens? So what does that make Dormé, Ellé, and Moteé? Dormé even gets to play decoy when Anakin takes Padmé to Naboo. Since a handmaiden needs to have a passing resemblance to her mistress, it's unlikely they can be loaned out. I'm sure Palpatine had bodyguards who occasionally acted as personal servants, but because they were male, the term handmaiden doesn't apply.
    – Martha
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 15:01
  • 1
    You know what? I forgot about them. I guess you're right. But the original answer still applies. Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 2:34

The smile that Sabe gives Padme after she orders her to do it is quite telling. Like it's some kind of joke. Whether it's a joke that she's making her do something menial, or a joke that "Hey, we're going to pull off you infiiltrating the strangers' ranks" is unknown.


Perhaps Padmé wanted to clean the droid--both to learn more about the people she was traveling with, and the droid that had saved her and her ship. She didn't seem to treat it as an onerous task, did she?

  • 1
    I thought about this, but I don't see any way she could have communicated that desire to Sabé. She's just quietly standing behind her.
    – bitmask
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 20:08
  • 1
    You're assuming that the information relayed by Captain Panaka wasn't known by anyone in the chamber before then.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 21:11
  • 1
    Yes, it's a reasonable assumption. Otherwise, why should he repeat it.
    – bitmask
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 22:11
  • 1
    Because he was asked, and even if the Queen's handmaidens do monitor security comms and such, without an official report there is still a possibility for a mistake.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 11:17

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