In the movie Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), Luke Skywalker asks Leia what she remembers of her real mother. She tells that she only remembers a little bit about her ,as a kind person - 'images, mostly'. Is there a explanation for this, or is it just a retroactive continuity in Revenge of the Sith?
I have always put this down to the fact that the story for episode three changed slightly between 1983 and 2005.
In world explanation? Leia's ability with the force has been described as being more empathic allowing her to be a better diplomat. The complete line is "Just...images, really. Feelings." perhaps her early Force abilities helped her to hold onto the few moments of contact she had?
I've always worked on the assumption that Leia didn't know she wasn't an Organa for real. She never knew she had a "real" mother because Breha was her mother. Breha also died while Leia was between 12-16. This is roughly 10-15 years before "New Hope"(my guess). Things happen, and that could be why her memories of her mother are fading.
There is, however, no evidence that she knew or didn't know she was adopted. The only thing we have to go on is Luke's choice of words:
LUKE: Do you remember your mother? Your real mother?
This COULD lead us to believe that not only did Leia know, but others knew as well. If you go off that, then the only explanation of how she remembered Padme is with the help of the Force.
IMHO "what we have here is a failure to communicate". It is possible that Leia had three mothers during her life, that Luke knew of the first two and Leia knew of the second two.
My theory is that Leia's "mothers" included:
1) Padme Amidala, her birth mother who died at the moment of birth.
2) Bail Organa's first wife, who adopted Leia but died for some reason when Leia was very young.
3) Bail Organa's second wife, who adopted Leia after marriage to Organa and raised Leia for most of Leia's life until the destruction of Alderan.
Because Leia's ancestry is top secret, Leia never found any record that she had been adopted and believed that # 2 was her birth mother.
Because Luke was not a scholarly type, and because most of the time he had available for learning when a member of the Rebel Alliance was spent learning to use the Force, he never checked up on Leia on any of the publicly available sources of information about her. So Luke never knew that Bail Organa had two consecutive wives during Leia's lifetime.
So Luke thought that Bail Organa had only one wife and she was the mother of Leia, until Luke's Force senses told him Leia was his sister. Then Luke assumed that Leia had been adopted by Bail Organa and his wife when she was born and raised by them until the destruction of Alderaan. He didn't know she had two consecutive adoptive mothers.
So when Luke asked Leia about her real mother, assuming she would know it was #1, Leia assumed he meant # 2 and told Luke about her dim memories of # 2. Then and only then did Luke tell her that he was her brother and Darth Vader was their father. And then Luke left long before Leia realized she must have been adopted by # 2 as well as by # 3, and that Luke had asked about # 1, Darth Vader's consort.
Never ascribe to the Force what can be explained by a simple miscommunication.
To Help Support the First Answer, Through the power of the Force.
Even though it's true this comes off as a plot hole, since the prequels were written after and seemingly George Lucas did not follow suit on what was stated in Return of the Jedi, the newer cannon is helping to fill in this void by allowing Leia's force abilities to know her mother, Padme' Amidala after her death.
In one of the new Marvel comics mini-series, Princess Leia, which takes place in between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Leia ends up on a mission to Naboo...
One of the earliest canonical interactions that Leia shares with the Force throws back to Return of the Jedi in a wonderful and very important way. In issue #2 of Marvel’s Princess Leia, the ambitious young leader makes her way to Naboo on a mission for the Rebels, accompanied by R2-D2 and her pilot, Evaan Verlaine. Shortly after the trio lands, a mural of Queen Amidala stops Leia in her tracks. In three gorgeous panels, Padmé seems to come to life and turn to look at Leia with those kind, sad eyes. But when Evaan doesn’t see the same thing, Leia hesitantly dismisses it. Here, the images and feelings that she later describes to Luke on Endor are on full display, and so is Leia’s strength in the Force. Luckily for Leia (and for us), this isn’t her last trip to Naboo, nor her last vision to be had on the gorgeous planet that was once her mother’s home. https://www.starwars.com/news/strong-in-my-family-exploring-leias-unique-relationship-with-the-force