King Willem-Alexander will mothball the controversial carriage, designed to glorify the Netherlands’ colonial past.
Amsterdam/Den Haag – The “Golden Coach” is a symbol of the Dutch monarchy. The Queen or King, currently Willem-Alexander, goes to Parliament on the third Tuesday in September to deliver the annual Queen’s Speech on Prinsjesdag. The carriage of the monarch or the heir to the throne is also used at royal weddings.
But the “Gouden Koets” is controversial – and should no longer be used until further notice.
Netherlands: King leaves golden carriage – symbol of racism and colonialism
The monarchy symbol has been the subject of intense debate in the Netherlands for years. The cause of the dispute is the illustration “Homage to the Colonies” on a side wall. Among other things, you can see a white woman on a throne, at her feet half-naked black people are kneeling and offering gifts. Next to it, a white man gives a dark-skinned boy a book. The painter Nicolaas van der Waay wanted to show how the Netherlands would bring “civilization” to the colonies. For many people, the carriage is therefore a symbol of racism and oppression in more than 200 years of colonial history. Years ago, an activist even called for the carriage to be burned.
King Willem-Alexander now announces that he will leave the carriage for the time being. As long as the colonial past is still disputed, the 54-year-old announced in a video message that he would not ride in the carriage. “As long as there are people living in the Netherlands who feel the pain of discrimination every day, the past will always cast a shadow over our time,” said the king. “We cannot rewrite the past. But we can try to sort it out together,” he added. He also spoke of a “path of reconciliation”.
Netherlands: Golden carriage disputed because of racist past
The horse-drawn carriage was last used in 2015. The almost 125-year-old vehicle was then extensively restored. It was a gift from the people of Amsterdam to Queen Wilhelmina in 1898. The Golden Coach has been on display at Amsterdam’s Museum of City History since last summer. The exhibition ends next February.
With the Black Lives Matter movement, the confrontation with the colonial past of European nations has again come into focus. In Great Britain, demonstrators had toppled the statue of a slave trader – now a controversial verdict has been made there. (lrg/dpa)