Ian Hamilton KC's theft of Stone of Destiny was a historic moment – Scotsman comment

As one of the gang of four students who stole the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey in 1950, Ian Hamilton will forever be associated with long history of this ancient royal artefact.

Ian Hamilton KC, pictured in 2009, has died at the age of 97 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Ian Hamilton KC, pictured in 2009, has died at the age of 97 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

In 1296, King Edward I of England seized the coronation stone of the Scottish kings and took it to London where it was built into a specially constructed throne. The symbolism was obvious.

So when Hamilton and his conspirators took it back to Scotland, they hoped to create their own symbolic act to rekindle a sense of Scottish national identity.

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Speaking after his death, Nicola Sturgeon said he was “one of the many giants on whose shoulders the modern SNP stands”, adding that she had “received occasional words of wisdom, encouragement and support from him, which I will always treasure”.

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Eventually, in 1996, the then Conservative government decided to legally return the stone to Scotland, a move that may have been prompted by the lingering impact of the theft.

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Ian Hamilton KC, taker of the Stone of Destiny, dies aged 97
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For all the bitterness of the independence debate, Hamilton, a lawyer, was highly regarded and well liked by many on both sides of the argument. His actions were unlawful and the stone was broken during the raid, but even those who disagreed with him did not bear a grudge.

Given Hamilton was appointed as a Queen’s Counsel, it seems the royal family bore him no ill will either. Shortly before his death, his wife Jeanette told the Scottish Daily Express that her husband was “happy for it go [to London] for the King to be crowned as long as it comes back to Scotland”.

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And that feels like a resolution, a happy ending.



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