THIS week, Ronald Ireland takes a look back at royal visits over the years in Peebles...

Since its beginnings, at least until the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the crowned heads of Scotland have been welcome visitors to the Royal and Ancient Burgh of Peebles. 

A less welcome visitor in 1301 and 1304, was Edward I of England, the Hammer of the Scots.

The Stewart monarchs from James I onwards were regular visitors to the town.

James I is credited with coining the phrase ‘Peebles to the play’, while James II, James IV and James VI each issued a charter to the burgh.
James V was a frequent visitor. 

During a visit in August 1525 there must have been a sizeable company present with him, because on this one occasion in a single day around 157 loaves of bread, one bullock, ¼ calf, 17 sheep, 72 poultry, nine capons, eight plovers and large quantities of barley, eggs, pears, apples, butter and mustard, not to mention 46 gallons of ale were needed to sustain them. 

When he died in 1542 the folk of Peebles seem to have remembered James V with some affection. 

In 1543 the Parish Church of St Andrew was made into a collegiate church and one of those to be remembered in the services was “James Fifth, our dearest father, of good memory.”

The last monarch to visit Peebles before the Union of the Crowns was James VI, who departed for his new capital of London in May 1603. 

He did however, not forget Peebles. 

In 1621 he granted a new charter to the burgh. It is a lengthy document. 

The preamble includes the following: “…and we calling to remembrance the ancient erection of our burgh of Peebles, the great benefits, memorable and thankful services done and performed by the bailies, burgesses, and community of our said burgh of Peebles, without any suspicion, fault or crime in every past occasion, as well in peace as war.”

His final recorded visit was on October 15, 1602, and the last by a reigning monarch until the visit of George V and Queen Mary in 1923. 

In 1947 the town was visited by King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Princesses. 

There have been other visits by members of the Royal family since, the most recent by Elizabeth II on the July 3, 2013.