TRIBUTES have been paid to Ian Hamilton, the last surviving member of the quartet who reclaimed the Stone of Destiny, has sadly passed away aged 97. 

The lawyer famously remained tight-lipped about his journey to Westminster Abbey where he and three other university students would remove the Stone on Christmas Day 1950 and bring it back to Scotland. 

The First Minister described Hamilton as a "legend" of the independence movement, while his son Stewart told The National he lived a "good life".

Hamilton was the last of the four to pass away, with fellow nationalists Gavin Vernon dying on March 19 2004, teacher and political activist Kay Matheson on July 6 2013, and Alan Stuart in June 2019. 

READ MORE: Hate crime report after 'racist' attacks on school visited by Nicola Sturgeon

Speaking to The National, Hamilton said that his dad, a QC and advocate, passed away peacefully on Monday evening in North Connel, Argyll, with his wife Jeannette and family at his side.

He said: "I think his actions speak for themselves really. You know, he was of an age and he lived a good life, but as someone text me today, you know, your dad is your dad, so there is a certain amount of sadness.

"But also it’s a long life, so there are a lot of mixed feelings."

Reacting to the outpouring of tributes for his dad, Hamilton noted that his life was not just defined by his actions over the Stone of Destiny. 

The National: Ian Hamilton was a renowned QC and defence lawyerIan Hamilton was a renowned QC and defence lawyer (Image: Stuart Hamilton)

He added: "We’re very proud of him, of course we are, that he touched so many people, but I think that was him.  

"I think the difficulty for him with that whole experience was that you know that was something that defined him for a long time.

"He was much more than that one act and although I think certainly proud of it in his later years, he was proud of other stuff I think he'd done as well and just the man who he was. 

"He cared for people, which is why he became a defence lawyer and care for the people that he was defending.  

The National: Ian Hamilton pictured with his wife JeanetteIan Hamilton pictured with his wife Jeanette (Image: Stewart Hamilton)

READ MORE: Liz Truss forced to apologise for £2500 energy bill price cap bungle

"He had lots of good stories and certainly lived his life, which is a good thing."

Hamilton, who had been born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, in 1925, was a law student at Glasgow University when he took part in the daring raid.

FM Nicola Sturgeon led political tributes as the sad news was announced on Tuesday morning.

She wrote on social media: "I am extremely sad to hear of Ian Hamilton’s death. He was a lawyer of exceptional quality and a legend of the independence movement.

The National: Hamilton famously remained tight-lipped about his Stone of Destiny escapadesHamilton famously remained tight-lipped about his Stone of Destiny escapades (Image: Stewart Hamilton)

"He will long be remembered as one of the Christmas 1950 liberators of the Stone of Destiny.

"During my time as @theSNP leader I have received occasional words of wisdom, encouragement and support from him, which I will always treasure.

"He is one of the many giants on whose shoulders the modern SNP stands. My condolences go to his loved ones."

The National: Hamilton, left, has been described as a 'towering figure' in the independence movementHamilton, left, has been described as a 'towering figure' in the independence movement (Image: NQ Staff)

Former MSP Alex Neil wrote on Twitter: "Very sorry to hear that Ian Hamilton has passed away. Ian’s daring recovery of the Stone of Destiny along with Kay Matheson and others will be remembered for a thousand years.

"He was a man of distinction, a great thinker and a true patriot."

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire, where Hamilton hails from, added: "Very sorry to learn that Paisley’s very own, Ian Hamilton has died. An accomplished advocate, he will be remembered best as an independence campaigner. On Christmas Eve 1950, Ian, with 3 friends, liberated the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey.

READ MORE: Liz Truss: Independence referendum shouldn't happen even if Supreme Court deems it legal

"It was traditionally used in the coronation of Scottish monarchs, but stolen in 1296 by Edward I.

"Ian was a towering figure in the indy movement & is yet another who has passed before his dream could be realised.

"It's for Ian & so many others like him we must deliver that prize. May he Rest In Peace."

The SNP wrote on Twitter: "All of us at the SNP are deeply saddened at the death of Ian Hamilton.

The National: Ian Hamilton on the set of the 2008 film Stone of Destiny which portrayed the heistIan Hamilton on the set of the 2008 film Stone of Destiny which portrayed the heist (Image: Stewart Hamilton)

"He will be forever remembered for his role in returning the Stone of Destiny to Scotland and as an inspiration to the independence movement. Our condolences go to his loved ones."

The Stone of Destiny was returned to Scotland on St Andrew's Day in November 1996, after having been initially taken to London by King Edward I of England in 1296. It was installed at Edinburgh Castle where it has remained but is set to be taken south again for the coronation of King Charles. 

Hamilton, Vernon, Matheson and Stuart, refused to reveal the location of the Stone for three months after it was reclaimed until it was found at the high altar of Arbroath Abbey. 

A 2008 film featuring Daredevil star Charlie Cox, Stone of Destiny, told the story of Hamilton's life and the infamous heist.