Yet there is no date for the coronation of Charles III. One reason is mourning for Elizabeth II. Another, the uncertainty about the presence of the talisman that for centuries has given legitimacy to royal coronations in Westminster Abbey. For the first time since 1239, the legendary Stone of Destiny is no longer in London, but in Edinburgh Castle, where it has since 1996 become a symbol of Scottish sovereignty.
The historic talisman that pitted the English and the Scots against each other for centuries and that now keeps Charles III in suspense has a deep link with the ancient Celtic mythology of A Coruña, according to the ancient founding legends of Ireland and Scotland collected in the Leabar Ghabala or Celtic Book of the invasions. The Stone of Destiny, which for two thousand years crowned Irish, Scottish and English kings, was brought to the British Isles from the Magnus Portus Artabrorum in Coruña, according to ancient Celtic legends around the year 900 BC. Irish and Scottish epics narrate that Ith, son of the chieftain Breogán, known in Celtic mythology as Breagh, sailed with his tribe from the Arctic coast to the north. At his feet, in the flagship, he carried the Stone of Destiny on which his ancestors had sat when they proclaimed themselves chiefs. Ith dies in the attempt to conquer Eire, but the sacred talisman settles with the Brigantes in the Irish town of Tara and centuries later is transferred to Scotland. The symbology of this story is contained in the sculptural ensemble of the Celta Park installed on the peninsula of the Tower of Hercules and in one of the bas-reliefs in the plenary hall of the A Coruña City Council.
The Stone of Destiny, also known as the ‘Stone of Scone’, would become the symbol of sovereignty and unity of the Scottish tribes until in 1239 they were conquered by the English monarch Edward I, “hammer of the Scots”, who took the sacred Celtic talisman as war booty to Westminster Abbey in London, where he had a throne specially designed to contain the stone at its bottom. He believed that whoever was in possession of the stone would be the rightful ruler of Scotland and England. Since then, the Scots have never ceased in their efforts to recover it. They would achieve it fleetingly at a time of great uncertainty for the future of the Windsor dynasty, in the midst of the decomposition of the colonial empire and on the verge of the coronation of a novice queen and without the least popular charisma, Elizabeth, after the unexpected death of the king. George VI in 1952, for whom he had replaced in many tasks since 1951 due to the cancer suffered by his father – the stuttering monarch who made the movie The King’s Speech popular. In 1950, four young Scottish and Irish university students, for whom the stone also has the status of a national symbol (in Ireland they call it Lia-Fail), stole it from Westminster. The police searched in vain for the historic talisman and a fortune teller was even called to find his whereabouts. George VI’s health was deteriorating rapidly and the fear of not having the stone was a harbinger that the age of the Windsors was drawing to a close. After arduous negotiations, the stone was recovered months later at Arbroath Abbey, where it had been hidden by Scottish nationalists. On June 2, 1953, Elizabeth II of England and I of Scotland was crowned Sovereign of Great Britain at Westminster. Among the symbols of the sovereignty with which she was being imbued were the orb, the royal scepter, the rod of mercy, the royal ring of sapphires and rubies and, most especially, the Stone of Destiny under the throne on which he sat.
The Stone of Destiny would be returned in 1996 to Edinburgh, where it was cheered by a crowd, after almost a millennium of retention in London, in a political gesture that sought to placate the emerging Scottish independence movement, on the condition that it return to Westminster for future coronations. The odyssey of the coronation of Isabel II bears a lot of parallelism with the start of the reign of a Carlos III that generates more rejection than illusion and with the British monarchy in its lowest hours. Perhaps for this reason, and despite not yet having a date for the coronation, Buckingham released a statement last week in which he assures that the Historical Environment Scotland organization, which manages Edinburgh Castle, where the Stone of Destiny is usually displayed, He confirmed that the talisman will go out for the coronation, but will return to Scotland immediately afterwards. This does not, however, end the uncertainty, since a sector of the Scottish Nationalist Party is opposed to the stone returning to London. And these days the feat of 1950 has been commemorated again in the pubs of Edinburgh (in a nod to the unique itinerary of the young nationalists, who marked their return with the trophy with numerous toasts in ancient Scottish taverns on the sacred stone).
The nebulous legends that link the ancient tribes of the coast of Ártabra Coruña with the invasion of Ireland and Scotland received a scientific boost in recent years when a genetic study carried out by Oxford researchers revealed that the ancient human groups of the British Isles and the northwest coast of Spain share the same type of DNA mitochondrial.