Royal search

THE search is on for Fremantle’s missing queens.

As part of what’s turning out to be a cracking history of the Blessing of the Fleet for its 70th anniversary, authors Susanna Iuliano and Maria Gorman are trying to track down the name of every woman who’s been crowned queen of the festa along the way.

But there’s quite a few gaps in the pre-social media era and they’ve put out the call for anyone who can help them find the 25 missing names.

• Fremantle’s first Fishing Fleet Festival Queen, Mary Raffaele.


“While the Blessing of the Fleet draws on traditions from the centuries-old celebrations of the Madonna dei Martiri and the Madonna de Capo d’Orlando in Italy, Fremantle’s festa incorporated unique elements such as inclusion of a queen of the festival,” Iuliano told the Herald.

“In 1952 the committee introduced the queen or reginetta of the Fishing Fleet Festival.

“The queen was chosen each year from a raffle drawn at a fundraising ball held in the lead-up to the Blessing of the Fleet.

“The first queen, Maria Raffaele, was the daughter of a Sicilian fisherman.”

• Who took the crown in 1974?

Iuliano says the book, which will be released later in the year towards the festival, has a big emphasis on images, but documents the festival’s growth from a small pageant that did little more than cause a raised eyebrow from other locals, to one of the city’s most important cultural celebrations.

She says it touches on the tension between its religious significance and the spectacle, and how the new migrants had a lasting impact on the city’s culture.

If you’ve got information on the missing queens from the years 1957, ’59, ’61 – ’66, ’68, ’70, ’74, ’75, ’77, ’81, ’82, ’86 – ’90, ’92, ’94, ’96 or ’97, contact festival committee member Nunzio Pisani on 0418 957 441, or the authors on


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