In a world of moral corruption, war, and authoritarianism, she was to serve as an angel of deliverance. Relena Peacecraft was simultaneously the voice of virtue and moral courage which ended the period of discord and the consummate power player whose stratagems achieved her aims. In almost every respect, she is the ideal leader and persuader.
We first meet Relena Peacecraft as a girl who has just turned 15. Her “father” is the Vice Foreign Minister of the United Earth Sphere Alliance, whose job is to keep the peace between Earth and the space colonies, which the Alliance rules with an iron fist. As a result, Relena Peacecraft, who originally goes by the name Darlian and often accompanies her father on his trips to space, is vaguely familiar with diplomatic niceties. She’s also a child of the upper class and is accustomed to communicating with powerful people. In addition to this, she displays a natural penchant for rhetoric and a capacity to overcome shyness and hesitation. Her leading bodyguard (and future sister-in-law), Lucrezia Noin, described her as “a ball of energy.” These things were the beginnings of what Scott Adams would call a talent stack.
Nevertheless, it was far from clear that Relena Peacecraft would be destined for greatness at the start of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Just beneath the surface, she’s a sheltered, lonely girl who just wants her father to pay more attention to her. She’s popular, but that’s largely because of her social status as “the richest girl in school.” It’s notable that the qualities which made her so extraordinary later on don’t factor into her popularity at school. Instead, it’s all a superficial facade. Though she didn’t speak of it, she knew this deep down, which is why the entrance of Heero Yuy was so unusual.
Relena Peacecraft first met Heero Yuy on the beach as a seemingly wounded soldier. She called an ambulance, but instead of thanking her for her kindness, he growled at her and stole the car. Following the customary way she learned to conduct herself, she introduced herself to thin air. The next day, she’s stunned to learn that this boy was now a new student at her school. What follows is one of the most famous scenes in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
Instead of accepting the invitation to her birthday party with gratitude, Heero Yuy tore it up and threatened to kill her! While most girls would be frightened at this, Relena Peacecraft was hooked, and here we see the first example of the extraordinary courage which would come to define her career. She kept pursuing him. This is where Relena Peacecraft gets her infamous reputation as a “stalker” from some fans of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (mostly slash fangirls who fantasize about Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell having a homosexual relationship). It’s true that in the beginning, her behavior resembled this, but to call Relena Peacecraft a “stalker” is to miss her confusion at this time and, more importantly, her growth as a character.
Heero Yuy was just the catalyst that awakened her latent talents. In pursuing him, she throws away the facade and begins to live up to her potential. The death of her adoptive father, and his revelation with his dying breath that her real name is Relena Peacecraft, the daughter of the famous pacifist royal family of the Sanc Kingdom, seemed to solidify the new course.
Relena Peacecraft displayed her courage again when she confronted Lady Une, the second-in-command to Treize Khushrenada and assassin of her adopted father, at gunpoint in Moscow. She escapes this situation and is taken to the Sanc Kingdom, newly-liberated from the Alliance by Zechs Merquise, in actuality her long-lost older brother Milliardo. Like her, he has a connection with Heero Yuy, having met him on the battlefield. Determined to stop the renewal of that battle, she flies all the way from the Sanc Kingdom in Northern Europe to Antarctica. The fangirls consider this another instance of her stalking, but they ignore the incredible boldness that this took (she actually flew between their battling mobile suits, caring little about the possibility her aircraft would be shot down) and the foreshadowing of her later career as a peacemaker in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
Relena Peacecraft was installed as the Princess of the Sanc Kingdom. In episode 14 of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, we caught a preview of what she would be like as the kingdom’s monarch when she confronted the Romefeller Foundation for its militarism and authoritarianism. Though a political unknown at that point, she nevertheless stormed the stage and castigated the aristocrats after Teize Khushrenada delivered this speech which the Romefeller Foundation approves of:
“You are very mistaken,” she says, “and the Gundams will soon come to rectify your mistakes, as ambassadors to those stifled by this whitewash.” Lucrezia Noin had to interrupt her at that point, but it’s a preview of things to come.
After the battle at Antarctica, the next 12 or so episodes of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing depict the takeover of the space colonies by Oz and the Romefeller Foundation, and the inability of Heero Yuy and his fellow Gundam pilots to prevent this from happening. Relena Peacecraft is not seen during this arc of the series, but she was busy, because the next time we meet her, she’s a well-respected international figure. Her tact and poise are on clear display here. She can still be bold when needed, but she speaks with grace and with the key word you’ll find in Verbal Judo, empathy. Beginning in episode 29, we no longer see the 15-year-old “stalker,” but a savvy character of power, wise beyond her years, whose charisma and personal magnetism stand in stark contrast to the Romefeller Foundation and its naked militarism.
Yet, there was something deeper here than her force of personality and her knowledge of persuasion. What takes her to the next level, beyond that of Treize Khushrenada, was that she served the forces the Ancient Egyptians personified with Ma’at – order, justice harmony. As Cicero would say in On Duties, Relena’s career in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing was a moral one because it bettered the forces that tied civilization together. She didn’t try to upend social forces for destructive or power-hungry ends. As she says many times, true peace can’t be obtained through force alone. That would only lead to a tyrannical system which would inevitably create more wars. A working, lawful constitutional order that preserves freedom and social harmony is necessary for peace to take root. Creating a peaceful world with this as its foundation was her public mission and it attracted many supporters, enough to make the powers-that-be afraid of her.
Her finest hour came when the Romefeller Foundation destroyed the Sanc Kingdom under a pretext. Relena Peacecraft makes a dignified speech saying that she would surrender herself to her enemies rather than see the cause of pacifism as a reason for bloodshed. Her boldness impressed Romefeller’s leader, Duke Dermail, who came up with the idea to use her popularity as a symbol for the world order the Romefeller Foundation sought to establish. Nevertheless, this was a dangerous move, as she was significantly more popular than he was. She’d take advantage.
Using the playbook in The 48 Laws of Power, Relena Peacecraft used her surrender to turn her weakness into power. Duke Dermail couldn’t compete either with her charisma or her vision of a stable world order, the foundation of which would be for Romefeller to disarm its own military in OZ, and end its dictatorship to create a representative Earth-space polity. To win back face, he ventured into space to suppress the White Fang rebellion that brewed there, but lost his life instead.
She would soon be ousted by Treize Khushrenada, but he didn’t remove her vision and in fact fought for it, even if she didn’t want such a fight to happen. With his demise, Relena Peacecraft was unchallenged in her influence and took her adoptive father’s place as Vice Foreign Minister, choosing to specialize in keeping the newfound relations between Earth and space good.
Relena Peacecraft was a character that used the techniques and persona of power and persuasion, but she ultimately ended well and didn’t suffer from fortune’s worst effects because she upheld the moral law of the universe. She was bold enough to seize fortune and wise enough to use the power she so expertly wielded not just for her own benefit, but for civilization. She is a paragon of power and a good life, that rarest of archetypes.
In many respects, she’s a synthesis of the eons of wisdom you’ll find in Lives of the Luminaries.
Until then, read Stumped to utilize some of the techniques she uses for your own ends.
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