I’d like to take a moment to honour the passing of Ian Hamilton, who will be remembered by the world for the significant role in Anglo-Scottish relations and the Scottish Independence movement.
Though born in 1925, Ian Hamilton’s story begins in 1296, when King Edward I of England, the Hammer of the Scots, stole the famous Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone, from Scotland as part of the spoils of war. This was a devastating act, as the Stone of Destiny was used in the coronation of Scottish kings, and its theft by Edward I highlighted his attempted subjugation of Scotland. Edward I had it placed in Westminster Abbey, under the wooden chair which would become the Coronation Chair, and the Stone has been used in English coronations by most monarchs since.
Over the centuries Scotland has demanded the return of the Stone many times. In 1950, a small group of young Scottish activists made that happen. Ian Hamilton and his friends broke into Westminster Abbey in the middle of the night, and took the Stone of Destiny. Unfortunately it broke into two pieces in the process, however they were able to return to Scotland with it, keeping it hidden whilst it was repaired by a stonemason. For four months they were able to hold onto it, before it was handed over to London police. Whilst Hamilton and his friends were questioned by the police and confessed, their folk-hero status had grown to such a degree that they were not prosecuted.
It wasn’t until 1996 that the Stone of Destiny was returned to Scotland for good, with the agreement that it would be loaned to Westminster Abbey for any future coronations.
Ian Hamilton, at 97, was the last surviving member of the group. I would like to pass my condolences for his family and friends. Scotland will hold him in its memory, just as he held Scotland in his heart.