The King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander ruled out the use of the royal family’s golden coach after claiming that a painting on the side glorified the country’s colonial past, including its role in the global slave trade.
It is decorated with a painting titled Tribute from the Colonies which shows blacks and Asians, one of whom is kneeling, offering goods to a seated young white woman who symbolizes the country.
“The golden car will not be able to drive again until the Netherlands is ready and it is not now, “said the King of the Netherlands.
The announcement comes amid a heated debate over the cart, spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement, which has led the country to examine its history as a 17th-century colonial superpower.
In the past, the golden wagon was used to transport Dutch monarchs through the streets of The Hague until the official opening of parliament in September.
“There is no point in condemning and disqualifying what has happened through the prism of our time,” said the king.
“Merely banning historical objects and symbols is certainly not a solution either. Instead, a concerted effort is needed, which goes further and takes longer. An effort that unites us instead of dividing us. “
For now, the car will remain on display in a museum in Amsterdam, where it has undergone a long restoration.
“A good sign” but the “bare minimum”
Anti-racist activist and co-founder of the Black Archives in Amsterdam, Mitchell Esajas, said the king’s statement was “a good sign” but criticized it for being the “bare minimum”.
“He says that the past should not be seen from the point of view and values of the present … and I think this is a mistake because also in the historical context, slavery can be seen as a crime against humanity and a violent system, ”Esajas said. noted.
Last year, the country’s national museum, the Rijksmuseum, held a major exhibition that explored the country’s role in the slave trade.
At the time, the mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, apologized for the heavy involvement of the former governors of the Dutch capital in trade.