It is a moment that lives in infamy. The day Leia Organa sold out the Rebellion. The day it all ended. The day the Empire won.
History has proven a harsh judge of the Alderaan princess. Yet perhaps there is more to understand of those events than scholars usually afford her. One must remember that she was a prisoner of the cruel Grand Moff Tarkin, second only to Emperor Palpatine at that time, one of the most tyrannical governors in the history of the galaxy. The man responsible for the Death Star, remember. The Death Star, that was used to destroy Alderaan, as Leia watched helplessly.
Really, what else was she supposed to do?
One must also keep in mind that the only figure capable of measuring up to the standards of Palpatine and Tarkin was Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith. Who just so happened to be Leia's father. Imagine the psychological torture she endured. One can only imagine.
Perhaps he pulled her aside. Perhaps he did it in front of everyone else, the common Stormtroopers, Imperial officers, Tarkin, all of them. Leia knew she was adopted, of course. She knew very little about her childhood, was so insulated and isolated that to call her a spoiled brat is actually a term of endearment in Leia's case. It gave her the resolve she needed. Until the day she learned the truth, from her own father, who wasn't just Vader after all, but Anakin Skywalker, Leia's biological father. The man responsible for the death of her mother, Queen Amidala of Naboo.
Imagine. And did he do it before or after the destruction of Alderaan? We've all seen the historical holograms, Leia working in the years and decades after the Fall, reluctantly, beside Vader and Tarkin, who succeeded Palpatine as Emperor. She never smiled again, that much everyone agrees on. Some called her cruel, the echo of Tarkin, uncaring. That's what most people say, actually.
But do you really blame her? She watched her adopted world be blown up, a mere demonstration of the Death Star's capabilities. After the loss of so many other worlds, one would imagine others might begin to sympathize with her. But she became easy to blame. If she had only kept her resolve. Who are we to judge? The worst torture imaginable has nothing to do with the body, but rather the mind. Knowing you will have to live with yourself, knowing what you've done. Knowing your father is a monster. Knowing you've become just like him.
In a way, I consider Leia to be a hero. Someone who endured, far more than anyone else. The Rebellion was crushed in an instant, once she told Tarkin where to find it. Obliterated in an instant. Far more mercy than she ever got. She was the one who had to watch. She was the one forced to participate. She was the one who had to mourn. A thousand times over.