THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – The King of the Netherlands on Thursday ruled out the use, for now at least, of the Royal Family’s “Golden Carriage”, one side of which bears a painting which the critics, glorifies the colonial past of the Netherlands, including its role in the global slave trade.
The announcement was an acknowledgment of the heated debate over the car as the Netherlands relied on the dark sides of its history as a 17th-century colonial superpower, including Dutch merchants making vast fortunes from slaves.
“The Golden Carriage will only be able to run again when the Netherlands are ready and that is not the case now,” King Willem-Alexander said in a video message.
One side of the vehicle is decorated with a painting titled “Homage to the Colonies” which shows blacks and Asians, one of them kneeling, offering goods to a seated young white woman who symbolizes the Netherlands.
The car is currently on display in an Amsterdam museum after a long restoration. In the past, it was used to transport Dutch monarchs through the streets of The Hague until the official opening of Parliament each September.
“There is no point in condemning and disqualifying what has happened through the prism of our time,” said the king. “Simply banning historic objects and symbols is certainly not a solution either. Instead, a concerted effort is needed that goes deeper and takes longer. An effort that unites us instead of dividing us.
Anti-racist activist and co-founder of the Black Archives in Amsterdam, Mitchell Esajas, called the king’s declaration a “good sign” but also a “bare minimum” the monarch could have said.
“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, ”he said. . “I think this argument is often used as an excuse to end the violent history of this one.”
The Netherlands, along with many other countries, revisited their 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, staged a major exhibition that took an unfailing look at the country’s role in the slave trade, and Amsterdam’s mayor, Femke Halsema, turned apologies for the important involvement of the former governors of the Dutch capital in trade.
Halsema said she wanted to “burn the great injustice of colonial slavery into the identity of our city”.
The Huffington Gt