You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

What is the Stone of Destiny and how will it feature at Charles' coronation?

Good Housekeeping UK logo Good Housekeeping UK 02/02/2023 Liz Darke

King Charles III will be officially coronated on Saturday 6 May 2023 in a ceremony packed with tradition at Westminster Abbey. The Royal Family's most sacred regalia will be involved in the ceremony, including St Edward’s Crown, the centrepiece of the Crown Jewels. One scared item slightly less dazzling but equally fundamental to coronation proceedings is the Stone of Destiny.

What is the Stone of Destiny?

Also known as the Stone of Scone or the Coronation Stone, the Stone of Destiny is an ancient, sacred block of red sandstone that has been used at the inauguration of Scotland’s monarchy for centuries. Its size is 66 cm) by 42 cm by 26.7 cm and its weight is approximately 152 kg.

Stone of Destiny, also known as Stone of Scone © Historic Environment Scotland Stone of Destiny, also known as Stone of Scone

The earliest origins of the stone are unknown but it was originally kept at the now-ruined Scone Abbey in Scone, near Perth in Scotland and it's believed that monarchs used to sit on the Stone of Scone while being inaugurated.

However, during England's invasion of Scotland in 1296, King Edward I stole the stone and had it built into a throne at Westminster Abbey. That wooden throne, known as King Edward’s Chair, has since been the seat upon which most monarchs of England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom have been crowned.

In the 1328 Treaty of Northampton between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England, England did agree to return the Stone of Destiny to Scotland, however crowds of protesters and rioters outside Westminster Abbey stopped it being moved.

For centuries, the only time the stone was moved from London was during World War II, when there were concerns about King Edward’s Chair being damaged by German air strikes and the throne was kept at Gloucester Cathedral until the war was over.

On Christmas Day in 1950 however, four Scottish students stole the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey, with the aim of returning it to its homeland. Despite police searches, it was three months before the stone was found at Arbroath Abbey, in the town of Arbroath on the east coast of Scotland. Upon discovering its whereabouts, English police reclaimed the stone and returned it to London.

Decades later, increased discussion around Scottish cultural heritage and history led to the Stone of Destiny being returned to Scotland and on 15 November 1996, after a ceremonious handover between the Home Office and the Scottish Office at the England-Scotland border, it was taken to Edinburgh Castle. Since then, the stone has been on show alongside the The Honours of Scotland, also known as the Scottish Crown Jewels, in the castle's Crown Room (see image below).

Stone of Destiny in The Crown Room in Edinburgh Castle © Historic Environment Scotland Stone of Destiny in The Crown Room in Edinburgh Castle

Most recently, in December 2020, the Scottish Government announced that the Stone of Destiny would be relocated to Perth City Hall, just few miles from the stone's original home in Scone Abbey, by 2024.


More From Good Housekeeping UK

Good Housekeeping UK
Good Housekeeping UK
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon