Britain will once again be on the world stage as we celebrate the coronation of King Charles III on 6 May. The global audience will be of similar size to the figures we saw for the funeral of Her late Majesty the Queen, showing the soft power that the Royal Family has for our United Kingdom.
One of the most memorable parts of the poignant events that took place after the death of our late Queen was the drive from Balmoral to Edinburgh. With the world’s eyes on these events, people were invited – many for the first time – to witness the natural beauty of Scotland. A sign of the British union recognising and empowering Scotland’s unique identity.
Even though the Coronation is in London, through symbolism and history, Scotland will continue to be at the centre of events.
In 1296, the Stone of Destiny – used for the coronation of Scottish Kings for centuries – was stolen by the English King, Edward I, after he invaded Scotland. He then erected a specific throne for English monarchs to sit on for their coronations – the coronation chair – and placed the Stone of Destiny within it.
The Stone of Destiny officially returned to Scotland in 1996, though it did spend three months in Scotland in the 1950s after a group of students broke into Westminster Abbey on Christmas day and stole the stone. But for the coronation, the Stone will return to Westminster Abbey, and continue the tradition of being used for every coronation of a British monarch.
To me, this symbolises the changing nature of the relationship between England and Scotland throughout history. The stealing of the stone highlights a history of mistrust, and the suppression of Scottish identity.
The returning of the stone to Scotland shows how attitudes have changed for the better, recognising Scotland’s unique history, traditions, and identity.
And the voluntary returning of the Stone of Destiny for the coronation is a symbol of Scotland’s voluntary commitment to being part of our United Kingdom.
On 6 May, some may simply see the King sit on a chair which contains a big stone, but for me, it will add another layer to over 700 years of Scottish history.
Written for the Falkirk Herald -