Cynthia Ailshie posted an essay as part of her Women of Speculative Fiction about Padmé and her role in the saga:
And I applaud Lucas for creating a compelling character in her own right. The only thing she had to be, for continuity’s sake, was the mother of Luke and Leia. He could have focused on Anakin and kept her a side character love interest, or worse. Instead, her journey provides the driving force behind most of Episode I and Episode II, and her diminishment and death in Episode III highlights the heartbreaking tragedy of the prequels.