What is the Stone of Destiny? The controversial artefact used by the Royals

The Stone of Destiny, which was returned to Scotland in 1996, will be moved to London for the coronation of King Charles III  (PA)
The Stone of Destiny, which was returned to Scotland in 1996, will be moved to London for the coronation of King Charles III (PA)

An historic artifact is at the centre of controversy as the Coronation of King Charles III looms.

The traditional stone, known as the ‘Stone of Destiny’, has been used for inaugurate royalty for years, and will appear at the upcoming coronation for Charles, but the idea has come under fire by some.

Former first minister Alex Salmond has said he is against the stone being taken back to London to be used in the Coronation.

But what is it and why is it controversial?

What is the Stone of Destiny?

The Stone of Destiny is an ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy, used for centuries in the inauguration of its kings. Seen as a sacred object, its earliest origins are now unknown.

The stone was used to inaugurate Scottish royalty for centuries, before being removed from the country by King Edward I in 1296. It was returned 700 years later.

The throne of Elizabeth II sat atop the stone during her coronation in 1953 but it was returned to Scotland more than a quarter of a century ago.

When was the stone stolen?

In 1296, King Edward I of England seized the stone from the Scots, and had it built into a new throne at Westminster. From then on, it was used in the coronation ceremonies of the monarchs of England and then Great Britain.

On Christmas Day 1950, four Scottish students removed the stone from Westminster Abbey in London and, three months later, it turned up 500 miles away – at the high altar of Arbroath Abbey.

In 1996, the stone was officially returned to Scotland.

Where is it kept today?

Today, it is one of the priceless treasures on display in the Crown Room in Scotland, visited by millions of people each year. The stone will only leave Scotland again for a coronation in Westminster Abbey.

The Stone is displayed alongside the Crown Jewels in the Royal Palace, on the east side of Crown Square.