Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ties into the very first Star Wars in some interesting ways and arguably enhances it thanks to some of its revelations, but a few of the A New Hope easter eggs certainly felt shoehorned in.
In particular, the inclusion of Princess Leia (or at least, a rough CGI approximation of her) at the end of the film made sense because it tied the film’s ending directly into the beginning of A New Hope, but it still felt contradictory considering there was a line of dialogue earlier in the film that suggested she wouldn’t be there.
If you’ll recall, there’s a scene prior to the Battle of Scarif that sees Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) mention that he’s off to dispatch his daughter, Princess Leia, to Tatooine to find Obi-Wan Kenobi, but then we later learn that she’s on board a ship in orbit around Scarif. Was this an oversight on the writers’ part or even something that was added at the last minute during the film’s reshoots?
Fortunately, a member of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Story group has cleared the whole thing up.
According to Pablo Hidalgo, there’s a legitimate reason for Leia ending up over Scarif instead of being en route to Tatooine. “The plan was always that Leia was going to Tatooine to pick up Obi-Wan and [Admiral] Raddus was going to escort her,” says Hidalgo. “Then the news of Scarif came in, and that was deemed more important… [because] it’s the one warship that they have at this point.”
Another member of the story group, Leeland Chee, also revealed during an appearance on the Star Wars Show that Leia was actually present for the large Rebel meeting on Yavin, but was kept off-camera so as to not spoil her surprise appearance at the end. The appearance of C-3PO and R2-D2 was designed to tip viewers off to Leia’s presence.
Source: LRM Online)