Tug of War
Following his victory at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296, England’s King Edward I (Longshanks) seized the Stone of Scone and had it fitted into the base of a specially crafted wooden Coronation Chair on which English (now British) monarchs have been crowned inside London’s Westminster Abbey for the last thousand years.
In a bid to reclaim what was considered lost heritage and as a rallying point for Scottish nationalism, the stone was stolen from Westminster Abbey by four students in December 1950. It was a scene not far removed from your average British comedy if it were not so serious. The robbery went awry and the stone, which was extremely heavy, broke in two during the hijacking. Discovery of its theft occasioned the first border closing between the two countries in 400 years.
To make a long tale short when the Stone eventually reached Scotland, it was repaired in secret by a Glasgow stone mason by inserting a brass rod to hold the two pieces together along with a mysterious note that has yet to see the light of day. The stone was eventually recovered from a police tip in 1952, draped in a Scottish flag, in the Arbroath Abbey where Scotland’s nationhood was declared in 1320. The students, though identified, were never charged.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York, representing the late Queen Elizabeth II, formally transferred the stone into the safekeeping of the Commissioners for the Regalia in 1996. With this act, it became official: the Stone of Scone’s home is in Scotland. The tug of war was over.