We learned that her mother was a queen, but this doesn't matter since she was adopted. And she also was completely unaware of her lineage before the revelation preceding the Battle of Endor.

So, why is she considered a princess?

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    Because, the epic story is about the nobody villager saving a princess with the help of the old wizard and his own, previously unknown, magic powers. And, of course, his father's legacy, passed on by the wizard (which may or may not be a sword, but if it is, it's a magic sword). Star Wars is a retelling of the epic fantasy hero's journey, so she had to be a princess. – Jeff Sep 14 '11 at 13:59
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    I considered it, but the question is asking from an in-universe perspective. I kinda figured that an out-of-universe answer would seem snarky, even if technically correct. – Jeff Sep 14 '11 at 14:30
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    Because princesses get 10% off drinks. – Neil Sep 14 '11 at 15:40
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    "Save the princess, save the Galaxy." – Keith Thompson Jul 7 '12 at 3:24
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    Monarchies are pretty fluid in the Star Wars universe. Naboo elects their monarch, whatever being elected Queen means, so it's not too far a stretch to think that Alderaan would allow an adopted princess. – Schwern Feb 6 '15 at 0:05

Leia was adopted as a baby by Senator Organa and his wife Queen Breha Organa, thus making her a princess.

Technically, I don't think she could be considered a princess by birth, since her mother Padmé Amidala was no longer Queen of Naboo at the time of Leia's birth, having taken the position of Senator of Naboo. So it's only via adoption that she has royal status.

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    Part of it I think is that by the way I understand it, it was not generally known that she was adopted and that the public image was that she was a real child of Bael and Breha. – BBlake Sep 15 '11 at 15:05
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    A "princess" is a title not limited to daughters of kings and queens. It just happens to be the title also used for daughters of kings and queens. Whether her mother was a queen or not when Leia was born doesn't make a difference. If she comes from a princely family, she is a princess. And adoption by a queen would also make her a princess. Prince Charles princely title is indeed the "Prince of Wales" (Wales is a principality) and the husband of Queen Elizabeth is also a "prince" despite not being the son of a king or queen. – Andrew J. Brehm Sep 24 '11 at 14:01
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    "Prince" just means "first" and refers to rulers rather than the ruled. There is, technically, exactly ONE prince per principality. There exist two German words for "prince", "Fuerst" and "Prinz". "Fuerst" is from a Germanic root (like English "first") and "Prinz" is from a Latin root (like "primary"). Both "first" and "primary" derive from the same Indo-European root meaning the same. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality – Andrew J. Brehm Sep 24 '11 at 14:03
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    Great answer, guy who I totally didn't go to high school with or anything. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jul 27 '15 at 5:13
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    This raises an interesting question: Leia's mother died when Alderaan was destroyed. So one might expect that Leia would have succeeded her as Queen of Alderaan, and should thenceforth have been "Queen Leia" instead of "Princess Leia". Of course, it's hard to be Queen of Alderaan when there is no Alderaan, but that also makes it hard to be a Princess of Alderaan... – Nate Eldredge Jul 27 '15 at 5:31

Leia was adopted by the Royal Family of the planet, Alderaan. Her adopted mother was Queen Breha Organa of Alderaan and her adopted father was the Viceroy (and Senator) Bail Organa. Leia became a princess because she was adopted into royalty.

After the destruction of Alderaan, Leia is still considered their Princess (and assumed Queen) by the remaining Alderaanians, even though she calls herself either Senator or General.

In the Star Wars canon book Bloodline by Claudia Gray, it goes into a bit more depth about Leia's royal roots. As to whether Leia (and her brother Luke) are royal by birth, the novel makes an attempt to answer this question. Here is one quote from the book that I found interesting:

'Leia, I always told you the truth about your mother and how she died. But I never told you that she was Padme Amidala, former Queen and Senator of the planet Naboo.' A war orphan and yet a royal by birth? Surprised as Lady Carise was, she decided it made sense. Leia's nobility was indeed in her blood....

Bloodline by Claudia Gray, page 202

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  • upvote for sourcing - new canon source no less – NKCampbell Oct 18 '16 at 19:03

Actually even exhiled Royalty is still consider King and Queen. Like the ones from Greece. Speaking of Greece Prince Philip who you claim was not a Prince by birth was actually born as grandson of both a King and Queen of Denmark and a King and Queen of Greece. As such he was born a Royal Prince. Upon his marriage to the future(Now Queen) Elizabeth he was made the Duke of Edinburgh. Hence Leia is the Princess of Alderaan. Technically is Queen as they have a population that survived the death star blowing up Alderaan.

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  • She could opt to call herself Princess as she is the heir of something that cannot be inherited any longer. And the people (well anyone except Han) could be calling her Princess out of respect for the memory of the Alderaan-that-was (Han, of course, does it just to annoy her). – BMWurm Nov 5 '15 at 11:10

She was adopted but no one knew this. They believed she was the daughter of a queen by birth. And that isn't changed even though she has no kingdom anymore. When kings and queens are removed from control and a monarchy dissolved they still keep the title and everyone still calls them prince, princess, king, queen, etc.

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    Her adoption was widely known to the public on Alderaan – Valorum Jul 12 '19 at 9:37

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