Dutch king retires ‘racist’ carriage after colonialism outcry

the Dutch The king has announced the retirement of the royal family’s “golden chariot” – for now – and one side of it holds a plaque that critics say glorifies the Netherlands’ colonial past, including its role in the global slave trade.

The announcement was an acknowledgment of the heated debate over the carriage as the Netherlands looks at the bleak aspects of its history as a colonial superpower in the 17th century, including Dutch merchants reaping vast fortunes from slaves.

“The golden bus will only be able to drive again when the Netherlands is ready and that is not the case now,” King Willem-Alexander said in a video message.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander announced the retirement of a royal chariot that was traditionally used on colonial portraits. (Dutch royal house)

One side of the car is decorated with a painting called “Salute from the Colonies” showing blacks and Asians, one kneeling, displaying merchandise for a seated white young woman symbolizing the Netherlands.

The carriage is currently on display in a museum in Amsterdam after a lengthy restoration process.

In the past, it was used to ferry Dutch kings through the streets of The Hague to the State Opening of Parliament each September.

“There is no point in condemning and excluding what happened from the perspective of our time,” the king said.

The carriage features scenes of people of color giving a “tribute” to the Netherlands. (AFP)

“Merely banning historical objects and symbols is certainly not a solution. Instead, a concerted effort is needed that goes deeper and takes longer. An effort that unites us rather than divides us.”

Anti-racism activist and co-founder of The Black Archives in Amsterdam, Mitchell Esagas, called King’s statement a “good sign”, but also “the bottom line” that King could say.

He said, “It says that the past should not be viewed from the perspective and values ​​of the present…I think this is a fallacy because also in the historical context slavery can be considered a crime against humanity and a violent regime.” .

“I think this argument is often used as an excuse to get rid of her violent history.”

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The Netherlands, along with many other countries, was reconsidering its colonial history in a process spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement that swept the world after the death of black man George Floyd in the United States.

Last year the country’s national museum, the Rijksmuseum, put on a major exhibition that took a steadfast look at the country’s role in the slave trade, and Amsterdam’s mayor Vimke Halsema has apologized for the extensive involvement of the Dutch capital’s former rulers in the trade.

Mayor Halsema said she wanted “to engrave the great injustice of colonial slavery into the identity of our city”.

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