Westminster Abbey as a symbol of England and the history of the “Stone of Destiny”, which was stolen, returned and will now be “lent”

The Coronation Chair on the Stone of Destiny (Angelo Hornak/Corbis via Getty Images) (Angelo Hornak/)

If they do not bring the stone, Carlos III will not be able to be crowned. Here, tradition is law. The new king of England was proclaimed, but not crowned. A king without a crown, you know. There is a deadline to meet, a duel to respect and a scenario that today is gloomy and, when the coronation, will be festive. If today the drums beat to death, tomorrow the trumpets will sing to glory: perhaps with the help of good old Joseph Haydn and his eternal fervor.

The stage is the westminster abbey. On Monday morning they will say goodbye to Isabel II, after seventy years of reign and at a time that will perhaps bear his name, heads of state, emperors, who still exist, kings, queens and princesses from all over the world for the final ceremony. And when it’s time it will be in Westminster where Charles will be crowned king in an operation that mixes protocol, security and mystery that already has a name: “Golden Orb”.

Westminster has a lot of history for Charles III. There they crowned his mother in 1953, in what was the first televised ceremony of British royalty, a wise decision by the new queen, promoted by her husband, with which the monarchy entered the houses of the British. Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the parents of the new king, they had married in Westminster in 1947another link in the long chain woven by the Abbey and Buckingham.

The Coronation Chair in 1963 (Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) (Evening Standard/)

When he was Prince of Wales, Charles married Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral, but it was at Westminster that they held the funeral of that unfortunate princess that he came to confess that three people coexisted in his marriage, in reference to Carlos’s relationship with the current queen consort, Camilla Parker Bowles. Elizabeth II would have told that disconcerted girl, who also brought them, that pain is the price we pay for love. Who knows if she didn’t tell him. It seems that Elizabeth II had a philosophical streak that perhaps deserved further study. It was in Westminster where, in 2002, the funerals of another Elizabeth, the Queen Motherwife of King George VI, father of Elizabeth II. Finally, the son of Carlos and his future heir, William, who is already Prince of Wales because his father left him the principality and honors, married Catherine Middleton in Westminster..

The marriage of Isabel II with Felipe (AP/File)
The marriage of Isabel II with Felipe (AP/File)
queen elizabeth coronation anniversary
The coronation of Elizabeth II (Credit Image: © Keystone Press Agency/Keystone USA via ZUMAPRESS.com)

The Abbey is a symbol of England, it keeps in itself a large part of the legendary history of this nation, which will not be summarized in these lines, but which dates back to the year 596. In 1920 it was arranged that in the nave of the Abbey they would be buried the remains of Unknown Soldier, in tribute to the British dead in the First World War. Beside that tomb, there is the “coronation chair”, in which all the kings about to be crowned since 1308 sat. It was built by Eduardo I to house the “scone stone“, either “Stone of Destiny”, which was used in the coronation rituals of the kings of Scotland.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Yui Mok/Pool via REUTERS)
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Yui Mok/Pool via REUTERS) (POOL/)

If the stone belonged to the Scots and was in Westminster, someone had stolen it, or, to be delicate, someone had moved it to London. It was King Edward I himself who, at the end of the 13th century, took the stone from Scone Abbey and deposited it in Westminster; He ordered the construction of the Coronation Chair and ordered that under his seat that sacred rock be placed for the Scots, as irrefutable proof of English domination and the subjection of Scotland. This is how things were done then.

The traditional ceremony indicates that the Coronation Chair, with the Scottish stone under its seat, is raised in front of the high altar of the Abbey. The Archbishop of Canterbury calls for the sovereign to be recognized. Pure rhetoric, but that’s how things are done. The sovereign then walks up to the throne, swears to faithfully serve the crown that is going to be placed on his head and the kingdoms that comprise it, and then sits down. Yes, about the Scottish Stone of Destiny. It is then that he receives, according to the liturgy, the symbols of his power, the scepter, a symbol of religious power, the orb, that small round globe that embodies political power and the crown, finally, a symbol of royalty. Everyone shouts Long live the King, the traditional twenty-one cannon shots fired from the Tower of London sound and something else: king on.

Diana’s funeral in Westminster (Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) (Princess Diana Archive/)

It is supposed to be so with Carlos III. It has been a long time, seventy years, since a king has been crowned in England.

Everything, symbology, pomp and circumstance, was about to be lost forever in 1950. Four Scottish boys snuck into Westminster, raised the Stone of Destiny. It wasn’t easy to get it out from under the chair: the stone split, because it’s a bit of sandstone too. A piece of the rock stayed in Kent, but the other part, the other half, perhaps, was taken to Glasgow despite the many and severe police checks that were either not many or not as severe.

kate middleton prince william kiss wedding
William and Kate’s wedding was also held in Westminster (Andy Hooper/ANL/Shutterstock/)

In short, the two pieces of the Stone of Destiny came back together, the stone was repaired and everything stayed in Scotland. It was not a very popular coup. Today it sounds like a successful adventure of some crazy and a little hallucinated boys. Without strong support in Scotland, with the police nipping at their heels, reluctantly aware of the distance between reality and dreams, the petty thieves abandoned the stone at the Benedictine, and Scottish, Abbey of Arbroath. The stone returned to Westminster and Elizabeth II swore on it, sitting in the Coronation Chair, as ordered..

What the thieves could not, politics could. Scotland demanded the stone be returned to us, and in 1996 the Conservative Party decided to return it, hoping to win over the Scots. The predictable happened. The Stone of Destiny returned to Scotland and the Conservatives lost the election: Labor Tony Blair won it.

The stone now rests in Edinburgh Castle, along with other jewels from the Scottish treasury, and will be “lent” to Westminster for the coronation of Charles III, if traditions are respected. It will be a Scottish contribution to the iron royal protocol, but no longer a symbol of its submission.

Sometimes, time does not pass in vain.


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