The Stone of Destiny, the medieval symbol of Scotland’s monarchy, has been sent from Edinburgh Castle to Westminster Abbey, where it will serve an important role in the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
A ceremonial procession was held last week at Edinburgh Castle’s Great Hall marked the temporary departure of the Stone from Scotland, which was led by the Lord Lyon King of Arms – the monarch’s representative in Scotland – and attended by Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf, in his capacity as the Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, one of the Commissioners for the Safeguarding of the Regalia.
On the following day the Stone was added to the Coronation Chair for the upcoming ceremony.
A service has been held this evening to mark the arrival of the Stone of Destiny at Westminster Abbey.
The stone – an ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy – will play a central role in the #Coronation of HM The King on 6th May.
— Westminster Abbey (@wabbey) April 29, 2023
Historic Environment Scotland (HES), who care for the Stone of Destiny and the other Honours of Scotland on behalf of the Commissioners for the Safeguarding of the Regalia, have worked with Police Scotland and other partner agencies to ensure the Stone can be transported safely and securely.
“The Stone of Destiny has a rich and varied history and has been used for centuries in coronations,” said First Minister Yousaf. “It will play an integral part in the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. In my role as Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, I am one of the four Commissioners all appointed by Royal Warrant to safeguard the Regalia of Scotland, which includes the Stone of Destiny. One of the duties of the Commissioners is to ensure that the Stone is made available for use in Coronations and that it is subsequently returned to Scotland. I look forward to seeing the Stone take its place in the Coronation Chair when I attend the ceremony on 6 May.”
The Stone of Destiny has been used for centuries in the coronations of monarchs and the inauguration of Scottish kings. The earliest use of the Stone and exactly how and when it became associated with king-making remains unknown, but legends around its origin strongly link it with kingship and the emergence of Scotland as a nation. The last Scottish king to be inaugurated using a Stone at Scone was John Balliol in 1292.
In 1296, following his invasion into Scotland during the Wars of Independence, England’s king, Edward I, removed the Stone from Scotland along with the other royal regalia. Around 1300 he had a chair built and installed at Westminster Abbey in London, designed to hold the Stone. This chair is now known as the Coronation Chair.
The Lord Lyon in Westminster Abbey at the Service this evening to mark the arrival of The Stone of Destiny. pic.twitter.com/eMJ97sXgBL
— Lyon Court (@LyonCourt) April 29, 2023
The Stone was used in the coronation ceremonies of the monarchs of England and, later, Great Britain. James VI was crowned James I of England in Westminster Abbey on 25 July 1603, the first ruler of ‘Great Britain’ to be enthroned on the Stone of Destiny.
The Stone of Destiny was officially returned to Scotland in 1996. During the preparations for the event, new research was done on the stone, revealing previously unrecorded markings.
Top Image: Courtesy Historic Environment Scotland