FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has responded to Alex Salmond’s suggestion that he should have refused to hand over the Stone of Destiny for the coronation and forced a “stand-off” at Edinburgh Castle.

The Alba party leader, and former first minister, said that Yousaf had the opportunity to make a “simple statement in defence of the country and realm” which would have made headlines around the world.

In an interview with LBC, Salmond suggested Yousaf should have commanded Police Scotland to put a “ring of policeman” around Edinburgh Castle in the capital, and refused to allow the Stone of Destiny to be transported to Westminster Abbey for King Charles coronation on May 6.

READ MORE: Salmond confirms he WON'T attend coronation – and will go to indy march instead

The iconic stone, long seen as a symbol of Scottish sovereignty, will be placed under the coronation chair during the ceremony.

It left Scotland last week for the first time in over 25 years.

However, the current First Minister, who attended the ceremony last week to see off the Stone of Scone to London, disagreed with his predecessor.

Speaking at an anti-poverty summit in Edinburgh, Yousaf told The National: “Alex Salmond should remember of course that operational matters are for Police Scotland.

The National: The FM was present at the ceremony before the Stone of Destiny left ScotlandThe FM was present at the ceremony before the Stone of Destiny left Scotland

“It’s not for the First Minister to tell the police what to do, but of course, it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do even if those powers did exist.

“Alex Salmond can sit there and talk about the Stone of Destiny all day long.

“It seems it's all he's been talking about over the last few weeks. I'm committed to talking about reducing poverty, the cost of living crisis, investing in our public services.”

We previously told how Salmond had confirmed that he wouldn’t be attending the coronation, and would be speaking at the All Under One Banner rally in Glasgow instead.

READ MORE: SNP sign contract with new auditors after previous firm quit

In an interview with Andrew Marr for LBC, Salmond said that Yousaf looked “a bit like a pet poodle” at the ceremony in Edinburgh Castle’s Great Hall on Thursday last week.

“Look, the opportunity was there to make a simple statement in defence of the country and the realm,” Salmond told the broadcaster.

“And I'm sure it would have commanded worldwide attention… “You don't command very much as First Minister of Scotland, but you do command the Scottish Police Force, you could have put a ring of policemen around Edinburgh Castle.

“Have a standoff on the Esplanade and politely explain to the world that Scotland should not sacrifice its symbol of sovereignty until that sovereignty is at least recognised by Westminster and the powers that are.”

Also known as the Stone of Scone, the 125kg slab of pinkish sandstone was transported to London with high levels of security and details on its journey kept under wraps.

It was the first outing for the Stone since it was officially returned to Scotland by Tory prime minister John Major in 1996, 700 years after it was stolen during the Wars of Independence.

It was last used in the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, shortly after four Scottish students reclaimed the Stone of Destiny in a Christmas Day raid in 1950, bringing it back to Scotland and keeping it hidden for months until it was left on the altar of Arbroath Abbey and discovered in April 1951.

We previously told how Yousaf insisted he would make sure the Stone came “back up the road” after the coronation.