Kirk and McCoy meet T'Pau when they beam down to attend Spock's wedding ceremony in Amok Time. The wedding party parades in, and the severe but serene Matriarch T'Pau is carried into the arena in a litter chair, as if she is a queen.
Captain Kirk excitedly asks McCoy if he knows who she is, and then informs him that T'Pau is the only person who ever REFUSED a seat on the Federation Council.
To be offered a seat on the high council of the entire United Federation Of Planets is obviously a huge honor, but to be someone who has better things to do is... well, we're not really sure what that means, but in any case Kirk seems to be very impressed.
We are given to understand that because T'Pau herself is there to officate at Spock's wedding, that it means that Spock's family is very important.
This regal Vulcan crone's mere presence at this intimate family gathering fills Kirk and McCoy with awe, which is reason enough to assume she's a great lady. But at the end of the episode, she gets Kirk excused from what could have been a court martial offence with one quick call to Starfleet Command. That's serious power. She's obviously one of the most politically powerful ladies of Star Trek.
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