The Beltane Queen
The first Beltane Queen honour was given to Margaret Muir. She was crowned at the Mercat Cross located at the junction of the High Street, North Gate and East Gate. The ceremony proved so successful that it was accepted that it could not be held at the first choice and had to be moved. The church steps of the Parish Church at the end of the High Street was chosen. This meant that the crowning ceremony would take place at an elevated position allowing all to view the Queen’s crowning ceremony.
The Beltane Queen is dressed in robes presented by the Royal Burgh of Peebles Callants' Club in 1988, (to replace earlier robes gifted in 1926 by Peebles’ exiles in New Zealand). The Queen is crowned on a Coronation Chair which came from South Africa in 1922. The Crown was gifted in 1921 by exiled Peebleans, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur P. Daniels, Singapore, who subsequently gifted the Sceptre in 1926 to complement the Crown and new robes. The new robes and Sceptre were first used by Beltane Queen Mary Thomson in 1926. The Sceptre is unique in that the head is a model of the Parish Church Steeple.
During both the First and Second World Wars the Beltane ceremonies were scaled down. For instance in 1915 it was held in Whitestone Park and in 1940 the Beltane Queen, Miss Sheila Murray (Crowning Lady 1990) was crowned in the playground of Kingsland School. In 1945 the Beltane Queen, Edna Murray, was crowned in the cricket pavilion in Whitestone Park. This was the last time the Beltane Queen would be crowned away from the Parish Church steps.
Only twice has the Beltane Festival seen a mother and daughter given the honour of Beltane Queen. Sarah McGrath (1988) followed in her mother’s footsteps, Sandra McKenzie (1962). Then in 2007 Kerry Woods was Beltane Queen, the honour previously given to her mother Margaret Frame (1969).
The honour for sisters to share in the selection of Beltane Queen has happened on 7 occasions, 1900 and 1905, 1904 and 1909, 1906 and 1908, 1934 and 1936, 1952 and 1954, 1955 and 1957, and 1991 and 1994.
For the names please see The Past page.