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If you read Star Wars screenplay, you will notice that neither C3PO, nor Ben Kenobi, nor Leia in her holomessage ever refer to her as a "Princess" (or even mention her name, for that matter).

Moreover, Luke didn't know who she was as public personality:

LUKE: Who is she? She's beautiful. {{creep!!!}}

THREEPIO: I'm afraid I'm not quite sure, sir.

LEIA: Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi...

THREEPIO: I think she was a passenger on our last voyage. A person of some importance, sir -- I believe. Our captain was attached to...

and the message itself:

LEIA: General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father's request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack and I'm afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.

As a matter of fact, the only times the words "Princess" or "Leia" appear in the script when breaching the 4th wall (e.g. scenario referring to her, NOT as part of character speech)

Yet, Luke seems to know right away that she's a Princess on board the Death Star:

THREEPIO: Princess Leia.

LUKE: The princess? She's here?

HAN: Princess? What's going on?

Is there canon explanation (perhaps from novelization) of how he knew right away that his "lovely girl" (quoting from screenplay) was the "Princess Leia" that C-3PO was referring to?

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    Is the answer 'midichlorians'? – Valorum Feb 22 '14 at 14:48
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    I just always assumed that Obi-Wan told Luke who she was in an off-screen conversation. Do you think they were talking about Pod Racing or bullseyeing womp rats the entire time when driving to Mos Eisley or en route to Alderaan? – phantom42 Feb 22 '14 at 15:00
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    Threepio talks a lot. It's extremely possible that not all of his dialogue was on screen. – joshbirk Feb 22 '14 at 18:31
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    @DVK I think Kenobi filling Luke and the droids in on Leia's background is a far cry from "indulging Luke's incestuous fantasies". – joshbirk Feb 22 '14 at 23:08
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    Since there are only three women in the whole galaxy, it's not a huge leap to work out who she is... – Valorum Dec 9 '14 at 14:10
37

This is covered in the film's junior novelisation. Just after the message has been played, we have the following exchange.

Ben sat back in his chair and tugged at his beard, thinking hard. Luke said, “Who is she?”
Distractedly, Ben said, “She is Princess Leia Organa of the Royal House of Alderaan, an Imperial Senator and, unbeknownst to the Empire, a leader of the Rebel Alliance. She’s grown into a remarkable young woman.”

You may wish to note that this conflicts with the official novelisation in which Leia openly states who her father is. Although she doesn't use the word, Luke is apparently sufficiently versed in galactic law to recognise that the daughter of a Viceroy is a "Princess".

“General Obi-wan Kenobi,” the mellifluous voice was saying, “I present myself in the name of the world family of Alderaan and of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. I break your solitude at the bidding of my father, Bail Organa, Viceroy and First Chairman of the Alderaan system.
Kenobi absorbed this extraordinary declamation while Luke’s eyes bugged big enough to fall from his face.

Obviously both of these scenes conflicts with the wording seen in the film.


In the 4th chapter of the "Star Wars NPR Radio Drama", Ben Kenobi has almost exactly the same conversation with Luke about her identity, again identifying her as Princess Leia.

Luke: Who is she?

Kenobi: She is the Princess Leia Organa of the Royal House of Alderaan.

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    I disagree with this interpretation. While Kenobi almost certainly knows who the princes is, all Threepio is aware of is that the girl is "a passenger of some importance" and that a princess is on board. There is no particular reason for him to link the two. The argument that he was "attempting to avoid the question" is also clearly false; he unhesitatingly accepts Luke as his new master, even after Leia is rescued. – James Sheridan Feb 23 '14 at 11:27
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    C3P0 could be aware that he's on a rebellion ship. Even if it wasn't made explicitly clear to him, then on-board conversations between the crew would give the game away. It's possible he lied to protect the rebellion. – Valorum Feb 23 '14 at 11:34
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    He deliberately revealed his past as a member of the Rebellion to Luke, then a few moments later lied about the identity of a Rebel to that same person? Come on, Richard, you're not that silly. – James Sheridan Feb 23 '14 at 13:15
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    @JamesSheridan - frankly, I don't see what the difference is. Either interpretation is a guess, whereas the question is asking for canon explanation (in other words, actual reference in at least C canon where C3PO uttered the word "Princess" near Luke) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 23 '14 at 14:19
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    Neither definition is a guess. As I noted in the comment above, the conversation between Threepio and Luke clearly shows they know exactly who they refer to as "The Princess" And Kenobi certainly knows she is a Princess since he helped place her on Alderaan with Bail Organa in the first place. And "a person of some importance" is not lying about Leia - it's merely a generalization, Leia is many things: a princess, a senator, an important rebel... – joshbirk Feb 23 '14 at 17:02
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I think you left the answer out of your third script quote:

[R2-D2 is attempting to locate the tractor beam power source.]

Luke Skywalker: What is it?

C-3P0: I'm afraid I'm not quite sure, sir. He says "I found her", and keeps repeating, "She's here."

Luke Skywalker: Well... who? Who has he found?

C-3P0: Princess Leia.

Luke Skywalker: The princess? She's here?

Han Solo: Princess?

Luke Skywalker: Where? Where is she?

Han Solo: Princess? What's going on?

http://www.moviequotedb.com/movies/star-wars-episode-iv-a-new-hope/quote_29904.html

Since (there have been no human females in sight since Aunt Beru, and) the main thing R2-D2 has gotten excited about like that ever since Luke first got him and removed his restraining bolt was the girl in his recording, and she's been on Luke's mind too, it's not much of a leap, and what he says next is a question.

Also, R2-D2 is beeping the whole time, and in other scenes it is clear Luke understands at least some robot beeps, so it's possible R2 has given Luke some other context clues that we don't understand. (Surely R2 has a beep for "yes" that Luke knows, so R2 probably answered Luke's question with a "yes" beep too.)

It's also possible that by this time, Luke had gained a little more information about the princess from off-screen talks with Obi-wan and C3PO (who from the start knew a Princess, and presumably, her name) was on the blockade runner, even if C3PO didn't seem to make the connection (or at least, not to explain to Luke immediately that the recording showed Leia). It's possible that R2 makes the connection from looting the Death Star's data, and says something that let C3PO and Luke make that connection too, but R2 doesn't really need to say anything to communicate that, because the way he's all excited is mainly something he has done when he's excited about the girl in his recording.

And, as @Xavon_Wrentaile pointed out, R2's recording as Luke saw it in Ben's hut is phrased as the daughter of someone requesting Obi Wan as a Jedi General to serve him again, and what would a daughter of someone who Jedi Generals serve be but someone like a princess? She was dressed as a princess too.

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    One thing you might want to add (was going to make it part of my answer, but you covered most of what I was going to say); even if nothing else was discussed about Leia, Luke knows that her father was served by a general and Jedi Knight during the Clone Wars. that alone is a strong implication that he is a head of state. – Xavon_Wrentaile Apr 1 '17 at 20:20
  • @Xavon_Wrentaile That's a good other detail. I'll add it, thanks. – Dronz Apr 2 '17 at 3:50
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He knows the hot space-babe who doesn't wear a bra was captured by Vader on her way to Alderaan, Alderaan is kaput, the droids refer directly to a "Princess Leia" two seconds earlier. It's a reasonably logical leap to make. You are correct though, there is no way for Luke to absolutely know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia are one and the same.

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