December 14, 2008

THE RIGHTFUL OWNERS:

Ian Hamilton on Stone of Destiny: I felt I was holding Scotland's soul: It was the 1950s student jape that re-ignited Scottish nationalism. As the 'liberation' of the Stone of Destiny is turned into a film, ringleader Ian Hamilton, now 83, tells Olga Craig why he is still proud of the heist. (Olga Craig, 14 Dec 2008, Daily Telegraph)

It was, Ian Hamilton calmly acknowledges, the moment of no return. ''You sort of know that when you take a crowbar to a side door of Westminster Abbey and jemmy the lock that there isn't really any going back, don't you?'' he says philosophically. ''Not when you know that the next thing you are going to do is steal one of the ancient relics inside.''

Hamilton is lost in reverie for a moment. A wry smile crosses his face and then a thought strikes him. ''Not,'' he says urgently, ''that it was stealing. It was a liberation. A returning of a venerable relic to its rightful ownership.'' [...]

Almost 60 years ago, on Christmas Day 1950, Hamilton, then a brash and idealistic young student studying law at Glasgow University, became notorious in England and achieved nigh-on hero status in his native Scotland when he and a trio of friends staged one of the most audacious heists imaginable. In a caper worthy of an Ealing comedy, they motored from Glasgow to London (in those days no mean feat), broke into the Abbey, and stole the symbol of Scottish pride, the Stone of Scone – with one of the ''thieves'' breaking two toes when it fell on them.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 14, 2008 9:30 AM
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