Cornet and Queen reigned in Peebles last week as the Royal Burgh took Daniel Williamson and Rianna Sterricks to their hearts.
Wednesday and the Riding of the Marches belonged to Cornet Williamson and his Lass Susan Thomson.
But Saturday, Red Letter Day, belonged to Queen Rianna, her court and the children of Peebles.
Cornet Williamson declared it so from the Mercat Cross after the Proclamation of the Beltane Fair.
He told the crowd as the youngsters awaited to take centre stage: “All our Border towns have passion and pride for their traditions. But only Peebles has the passion to make Red Letter Day for the children. Queen Rianna’s smile has captured the people of Peebles.”
The Beltane Fair was proclaimed by local solicitor Struan Ferguson who went on to fulfil his duties at the old burgh boundaries.
Cornet Williamson received his medallion from Beltane and March Riding chairman Alastair Dodds and he would wear it with pride. There was a medal too for silver jubilee cornet Andrew Williamson whose Lass in 1988 was his wife Joyce.
Pipes and drums heralded the arrival from the Northgate on to the High Street of the children – soldiers, penguins pirates, rag dolls , flower girls and mice, and onwards they marched, carefully chaperoned and gently marshalled, by teachers, through the gathered crowd to the Parish Church steps.
There they took their places – a sea of colour – to await the arrival of their Queen.
The combined Peebles Ex-Service and Peebles Silver Bands blew any remaining Saturday morning cobwebs away as they escorted dignitaries and visiting principals to their places for the Crowning.
The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall were in town earlier this month and on Wednesday Queen Elizabeth follows in her son’s footsteps to open the Buchan Centre. But on Saturday it was Rianna who reigned.
Earlier clouds with their threat of rain had long gone and there was sunshine. If it was a bit chilly, nobody noticed.
The characters of the festival were waiting and slowly and with dignity the court was built up with Rianna waiting to be crowned.
First Courtier Ross Aiken, 11, from Priorsford Primary, never put a foot wrong – no one involved in this picturesque pageantry did. Maid of Honour Abbie Gilmour and Maids Lilly Carvalho, Abbey Scrimger, Anna Taylor, Darcy Hamilton and Lorna Welsh, were attentive to the finest detail.
Crowning Lady Theresa Hindhaugh, who has helped train the court for the past 18 years. Dressed in Beltane red, she fulfilled her appointed role with dignity and grace. Rianna Sterricks was now truly, Beltane Queen 2013. There were fanfares and cheers.
And there were telegrams from China, France, Australia, Botswana, New Zealand, the USA, Thailand, St Helena, the Republic of Ireland, England and of course Scotland. Many included special mention of the Silver Band which responded to each with a cheer.
Cornet Williamson and his supporters, the brothers, Cameron and Ewen Young rode by to pay homage and were greeted by happy cheers from the youngsters.
And then there was a surprise. Queen Rianna’s uncle, Jim Sterricks, cycled by on the Beltane Penny Farthing. The cycle has been ridden by the Sterrick family since the days of her great grandfather, but only in the parades – never at the Crowning. Special permission had been asked for its use by the Sterrick family and had been granted, but Rianna was unaware it was going to happen. She said later it was a pleasant surprise.
On this, the 114th anniversary of the restoration of the festival, Queen Rianna’s proclamation, extended a warm welcome to young and old and to those attending for the first time and those “whom our festival has gladdened for many years”.
The Queen’s desire was for the day be given over to sport and jollity and that nothing should be done to tarnish the fair names of the Ancient and Royal Burgh.
And before long there was much jollity. Queen and Court departed in the Beltane Landaux while the young characters of the festival let excitement rip as they headed for the decorated floats.
Brass and pipe bands were woven between the lorries and trailers as the youngsters toured town. Sweets were thrown by onlookers – and sometimes mischievously returned. Peebles Silver Band proudly led their Queen and Court.
Soon it was time to remember those of the armed forces who made the supreme sacrifice to ensure that days like this could be enjoyed.
In the Quadrangle, as the parade continued outside, due tribute was paid. There was a hint of rain that faded away.
Floral wreaths were gently laid by Queen, Cornet, Crowing Lady, Warden of Neidpath, James Moffat, and Chairman Dodds. Warden of the Cross Kirk, the Reverend Malcolm Jefferson, reminded us that those whose names appeared on the memorial, would not grow old as we that are left would.
And here was the Last Post, the silence, Reveille and the haunting strains of Flo’ers o’ the Forest.
Amidst the fun, Peebles had remembered.