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King: Dealing with the colonial past is a ‘long healing process’

King Willem-Alexander gave his Christmas speech last year.Photo: RVD/Bart Mart

King William-Alexander has said acknowledging the Netherlands’ past slave trade is a “healing process” that will take decades, beginning with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s apology last December.

in the The latest episode of the podcast series On the 10th anniversary of his throne, the king said he wanted to “come clean” of the royal family’s relationship with slavery as part of a broader survey of colonial history.

last December he commissioned an independent report Home to Orange-Nassau’s role in its colonial past, led by Leiden University historian Gert Austindy.

The royal family also conducts audits of arts and crafts collections to see if they contain items that should be returned to former colonies.

“I know I am not guilty of anything, but it is clear that I have a responsibility to Dutch society for what our ancestors did. That’s why,” he said.

The King will address the Keti Koti (“Break the Chains”) ceremony in Amsterdam on July 1 this year, marking the 150th anniversary of the formal abolition of slavery in Suriname.

Rutte apologize

Rutte’s apology in four languages ​​on December 19 last year was well received, but some anti-slavery campaigners said the apology from the head of state was more important. ing.

Willem-Alexander said an apology was “not on the agenda”, but criticized Rutte’s sentiment that his speech should be followed by “a comma, not a full stop”, leading to a candid discussion of the past. reflected.

“We are at the beginning of the healing process,” said Wang. I think it will take a long time.”

He added: “It is very important that we go through this process together. It will take years. Overcoming the colonial past and the consequences of slavery I can. .’

gold carriage

He said the restoration of the Golden Coutts, traditionally used by the king for the opening ceremonies of the Houses of Parliament, gave him insight into how the legacy of colonialism affects contemporary Dutch society. rice field. The coach was taken out of service to be restored in 2016, There is strong speculation that it will never be used again.

“I fully understand that coaches can stir up negative emotions and feelings, and that coaches have become symbols of division rather than community. said the King.

He said that during the restoration process, the King and Queen Maxima had a series of “honest, raw and emotional” conversations with community representatives. “They represent the sentiments of different groups in society very well. It’s not just a matter of the resentful few.

And why does it run so deep? Because the consequences of racism and discrimination in our society can still be felt today.

“We have great laws like Article 1 of the Constitution. It’s great to have an anti-discrimination article, but in practice there is still discrimination. plays a big role.

“If we do not acknowledge what has happened and that slavery is a crime against humanity, we will never progress. Instead, we should have the feeling that we understand what our ancestors went through.

https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2023/04/king-dealing-with-colonial-past-is-a-long-process-of-healing/ King: Dealing with the colonial past is a ‘long healing process’

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