‘But I must gather knots of flowers,
And buds and garlands gay,
For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother,
I’m to be Queen o’ the May.’
– Alfred Lord Tennyson
The May Queen is a young girl who is selected to represent the goddess Flora during the celebrations for May Day. She walks at the front of the parade, sometimes followed or preceded by a young boy playing Jack-in-the-Green, wearing a long white skirt, that symbolises purity, a crown and garlands made of beautiful flowers.
She starts the celebrations of May Day, usually making a speech before the Maypole dancing begins.
The May Queen returns the next year to crown the new May Queen and stays in the procession.