- "Princess-dowager Kareen was a thin, strained-looking woman of thirty with elaborately dressed, beautiful dark hair, though her grey gown was of a simple cut. Simple but perfect. A dark-haired boy of four or so was sprawled on the floor on his stomach muttering to his cat-sized toy stegosaurus, which muttered back....
To Cordelia's astonishment, Princess Kareen leaned over, took her right hand, lifted it to her lips, and kissed it hard.
'I swore,' said Kareen thickly, 'that I would kiss the hand that slew Ges Vorrutyer. Thank you. Thank you.' Her voice was breathy, earnest, tear-caught, grateful emotion naked in her face. She sat up, her face growing reserved again, and nodded. 'Thank you. Bless you.'"
- ―Cordelia's first meeting with Princess Kareen[src]
Kareen Vorbarra was the mother of Gregor Vorbarra, the future Emperor of the planet Barrayar and the interstellar Barrayaran Imperium, as well as the wife of Crown Prince Serg Vorbarra and daughter-in-law of the ruling Emperor Ezar Vorbarra.
Her usual role in Barrayaran politics centered on public relations; she did these with "great flair".
She was an extremely reserved person; at times, it could be extremely difficult to guess her opinions on a subject. She'd encouraged Vordarian to form a romantic relationship with her when it seemed that otherwise her husband Serg might become Emperor. Once Serg was out of the way, she put work into discouraging that relationship, but with mixed success. Her feelings for him did not appear to go beyond a wistful appreciation for the fact that he did not abuse his various courtesans.