England and Scotland’s ‘deep friendship’ hailed at Stone of Destiny service

The Dean of Westminster paid tribute to England and Scotland’s “deep friendship” at a service to mark the arrival of the Stone of Destiny ahead of the coronation.

The stone, also known as the Stone of Scone, was transported from its usual home in Edinburgh Castle to London earlier this week, where it will be used in the coronation of the King next weekend.

Weighing 125kg, it will be placed in the Coronation Chair for the enthronement, before being returned to Scotland afterwards.

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The Dean of Westminster, Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Addressing the congregation at a service to mark the stone’s arrival at Westminster Abbey, Dean of Westminster Dr David Hoyle said: “Today we meet in deep friendship and respect, confident in our different histories, here to acknowledge what unites us.

“We have a common calling under God which summons citizens of all kingdoms to find a home in the Kingdom of Christ, for he is our peace.

“We meet to pray for their majesties King Charles and Queen Camilla, for the royal family, and for God’s blessing on all those who now work so hard on the preparations for the coronation.

“We will pray for the Government and people of Scotland and for our sisters and brothers in the churches of Scotland.

“With nations and with the Commonwealth we look to the coronation where, in worship and music, we will find a common voice and express a common hope.”

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The Duke of Buccleuch, flanked by two Officers of Arms, stands beside the Stone of Destiny (Russell Cheyne/PA)

Prayers were said by the Reverend Mark Birch and the abbey’s Sub-Dean Reverend David Stanton.

The Robin Chapel Choir, from Edinburgh, sang hymns as well as the national anthem.

Joseph Morrow, the Lord Lyon of Scotland, said that the stone had returned to Westminster Abbey for the coronation as an act of “unity” and “a symbol of friendship”.

He said: “This is the Stone of Destiny, often called the Stone of Scone, an ancient symbol of sovereignty that has been brought to sanctify the inauguration of monarchs from time immemorial and in our recorded history from as early as the accession of Malcolm III of Scotland in 1058.

“The Stone was taken from its place in the Abbey of Scone to this Abbey Church in 1296 by command of King Edward I in an act of enmity.

“It was returned to Scotland in 1996 by command of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in an act of amity.

“Now comes again to this place by command of King Charles III as an act of unity and a symbol of friendship.

“It is committed to your care and safekeeping until its return to Scotland after His Majesty’s Coronation.”

Professor David Fergusson, the Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland, said that the stone had changed from being a “spoil of war” to a “symbol of unity”.

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A service to mark the arrival of the Stone of Destiny to Westminster Abbey (Susannah Ireland/PA)

“A lump of sandstone that has been bashed about a bit is hardly an object of aesthetic beauty,” he said.

“Yet its history ensures a kind of veneration and even calls for our celebration today.

“Once a spoil of war, the Stone of Destiny has become a focus of unity. A source of division, it returns today in an act of friendship.

“Soon to be displayed in Perth near its place of origin, it features again at the centre of our nation’s history.

“Though ancient quarrels can be recalled, we do so as we celebrate what we hold together in trust and in concord.”

Speaking to the PA news agency after the service, Dr Hoyle said it was “extraordinary” to see the stone back in the abbey.

“I was looking forward to it coming back,” he said.

“It really moving to have it in the abbey. It’s extraordinary to see the stone.

“When you have the chair and you’ve got this space underneath it, you’re very conscious of an absence, because you keep looking at the place where it’s going to be.”