What’s one unusual Scottish stone got to do with King Charles’ coronation?

What’s one unusual Scottish stone got to do with King Charles’ coronation?

Stone of Destiny returns to England to be placed in King Charles's throne


Us Brits have some unusual traditions, for sure, but having a monarch wear a golden crown accompanied by an orb and scepter while sitting on something called the ‘Stone of Scone’ (or the ‘Stone of Destiny’), is one of the strangest.

Far from a rejected prop from The Crystal Maze, the Stone of Destiny actually plays a significant role in the coronation of King Charles III, due to take place on 6 May.

So what’s so special about this stone?

Both Historic UK and Edinburgh Castle state its origins are unknown, but what is known is that the monarchy forcibly removed the stone from a place called Scone in Perth and Kinross.

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Initially used for Scottish royalty, King Edward I of England nicked the stone from Scotland in 1296 and took it to Westminster Abbey – the very place where the King is due to be crowned. A special Coronation Chair was created to store the stone, and that chair was sat on by Edward II when his coronation came around in 1308, and continues to be used for all coronations after that.

The Scottish students

Though it was in 1950 when something arguably more dramatic and interesting took place, when four students from Scotland stole back the stone from Westminster Abbey in December.

The quartet, members of the Scottish Covenant Association which supported home rule in the country via a Scottish assembly, accidentally dropped the stone while removing it and had to get the two pieces mended by a stonemason.

In April 1951 it was found in Arbroath Abbey, which houses the Declaration of Arbroath that stated Scotland’s independence from England from around 1320.

Eventually, in 1996, it was officially returned to Scotland and now resides in Edinburgh Castle except for coronations.

Last month the son of one of the four students, Jamie Hamilton (his father Ian Hamilton was involved) told the BBC the view of his dad would be that it is “ridiculous” that the stone is being taken to Westminster Abbey for the King’s coronation.

“If people want to be crowned on it they should come to Scotland and be crowned on it. I think that would be his standpoint,” he said.

Protecting the stone from “nationalists”

Yet despite the Scots now owning what is rightfully theirs again, the Conservatives are being ridiculously paranoid over whether or not Scottish citizens in support of their country’s independence might try to “steal it again”.

Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, was meant to address the Scottish Conservatives’ conference, but instead junior minister John Lamont had to explain that his boss had been “unavoidably detained in London” and was “standing guard over the Stone of Scone” ahead of the coronation.

“Alister is primarily making sure that nationalists don’t steal it again. But he is also making absolutely certain that the stone does come back to Scotland,” he said.

Mr Jack himself, meanwhile, speaking in a video address, said he had “an important job elsewhere helping to prepare for the coronation of His Majesty the King”.

He added: “I hope you’ll agree that as excuses go, that one passes muster”.

The Stone of Destiny left Edinburgh Castle earlier this week.

OK, and how do you pronounce the ‘scone’ in Stone of Scone?

Unlike either side of the age-old debate, Scone as in the Scottish place is not pronounced ‘scone’ as in throne or gone, but “skoon”.

You’re welcome.

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