The Stone of Destiny: A Coronation Heist

The Stone of Destiny sounds like something out of the Marvel movie.  It is a rather unimpressive piece of sandstone, but it plays a central role in the Coronation story.  The stone was taken (stolen) from the Scots in 1272, as a means to stop them from crowning new Kings by the invading English King Edward I.  It sits under the Coronation throne and every King and Queen since the 14th Century has sat above the stone during their coronation. 

On Christmas Eve 1950 four Scottish students broke into Westminster Abbey intending to steal the stone and return it to Scotland.  As they dislodged the stone from under the throne it came crashing to the floor, breaking in two.  Using his coat Ian Hamilton the ring leader dragged one piece into the back of one of the two waiting cars.  At which point a policeman turns up! Ian Hamilton and Kay Matheson (the only female accomplice) fall into a lover’s kiss to put the policeman off the scent.  The policeman chats with the couple and lets them drive off.  

Hamilton then returns to the Abbey to get the second piece of the stone.  He drags it to the second car, only to realise his keys are in his coat pocket, which is wrapped around the other piece of rock which is heading out of town in the back of Kay’s car.  Luckily his key had fallen out of his pocket and Ian stumbles across them in the Abbey and gets the stone into his Ford Anglia, just as the Abbey is being opened up for the day and the guards start to put out the alarm.

Both cars escape but get lost hopelessly lost in south London.  By now the authorities have closed the English / Scottish boundary.  So the stones are buried, one piece in Kent, one in the Midlands.

Westminster Abbey

In April 1951 the police received a message and the now-fixed Stone was found on the High Altar of Arbroath Abbey which has a central part in the story of Scottish nationhood. The Stone was returned to Westminster Abbey in February 1952 and then played a key role in the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

But the stone no longer sits beneath the Coronation throne.  In 1996 in a shocking move, which many thought was to gain political advantage, PM John Major returns stone and which now sits in Edinburgh Castle.  In the 1997 election no Tories MPs were elected in Scotland. 

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