January 1, 1651
Scone, Perth, Scotland
The village of Scone had a long history of crowning Scottish kings. Ancient Gaelic poetry referred to it as Scoine sciath-airde or ‘Scone of the high shields.’ The Abbey at Scone had two important functions. It housed the coronation stone and served as a royal residence.
Prince Charles had been received by the Abbey with all outward respect imaginable. Chaplains previously hostile to him approached on bended knees, in the humblest of postures. The Marquis of Argyle was gracious, entertaining him with pleasant discourses. But all was not as expected. Upon arrival, the Prince had been separated from his English servants. Attempts to restore them to his company were futile. All else, he’d been allowed – fine meals, a good horse to ride, a walk in the night air. At public appearances, he received the respect due a great king. Why then, did he feel like a prisoner?
That morning, the Prince dressed in a royal coronation robe. He was conducted from his bed chamber by the constable and the marshal to the Chamber of Presence. There, he was placed in a comfortable chair by the Lord of Angus. After a short repose, the commissioners of barons and boroughs entered the hall and presented themselves before him.
Charles was growing impatient. “Get on with it.”
The Lord Chancellor’s eyes widened. “Sir, yer good subjects desire ye may be crowned, as the righteous and lawful heir of the crown of this kingdom. But there are conditions – That ye maintain religion as it is presently professed and established. That ye conform to the National Covenant. That according to yer declaration of August last; that ye receive them under yer highness’ protection, to govern them by the laws of the kingdom, and to defend them in their rights and liberties…” The man droned on and on.
Charles stifled a yawn. He cleared his ears and caught the last of it. “…For the maintenance of religion, for the safety of yer Majesty’s sacred person, and maintenance of yer crown, which they entreat yer Majesty to accept, and pray Almighty God that for years ye may happily enjoy the same.”
The Prince gave a rehearsed answer, “I do esteem the affections of my good people more than the crowns of many kingdoms, and shall be ready, by God’s assistance, to bestow my life in their defense, wishing to live no longer than I may see religion and this kingdom flourish in all happiness.” Charles gazed at the faces in the audience. They seemed satisfied. He stood.
The commissioners and noblemen began the walk to the Kirk of Scone, two by two in order according to their rank. The sword was carried by the Earle of Rothes, the scepter by the Earle of Craufurd, and the crown by the Marquis of Argyle. Then came the soon to be king, with the constable on his right hand and the great marshal on his left, his long train being carried by chosen lords and their sons.
The procession entered the Kirk, which had been prepared for the solemn ceremony. There was a table upon which the honors were laid, and a stage. Upon this stage was a chair where his majesty would hear the sermon, and another chair where he would sit to receive the crown. Under this chair was the Stone of Scone. The commissioners and noblemen took seats on benches. The Prince sat in the chair meant for the hearing of the sermon.
Charles pinched the bridge of his nose. He was getting a frightful headache.
The Marquis of Argyle inquired, “Are ye ill, yer Majesty?”
“Nay!” Charles snapped. “You may proceed.” He stopped pinching his nose and composed himself.
The minister arrived and began the sermon.
Charles suffered through his boring words. The things one must endure to regain their throne! At last, the sermon was done. They escorted him to the chair that sat over the Stone of Scone.
The Marquis of Argyle placed the crown on his head. With great ceremony, he uttered the words that would make him king. The man concluded, “And now, yer Majesty, yer subjects shall approach.” They came on bended knees, bearing exquisite gifts – a pistol, a harp, an ancient gold coin… the list was endless. Did they expect him to remember?
King Charles cared nothing for these gifts or the men who gave them. His thoughts were with his murdered father. I accomplished the first step, Father. With the Scottish army, I will regain my English throne and punish the men who ordered your death…