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The Golden Coach and colonialism: Dutch royal family to temporarily stop using carriage due to colonial ties

Written by Sana Noor Haq, CNNMick Krever, CNN

King Willem-Alexander has mentioned the Dutch royal family will temporarily stop using the Golden Coach till “the Netherlands is ready,” following criticism of colonial ties to the horse-drawn carriage.

“Our history contains much to be proud of. At the same time, it also offers learning material for faults to recognize and to avoid in the future,” King Willem-Alexander, the ruling monarch within the Netherlands, mentioned in a video message printed on the royal family’s verified YouTube account on Thursday.

“We cannot rewrite the past. We can try to come to terms with it together. That also applies to the colonial past. Instead, a collective effort is needed that goes deeper and lasts longer. An effort that unites us rather than divides us.”

The carriage — recognized colloquially as “De Gouden Koets” — has been on the heart of fierce debate lately.

One of the panels on the Golden Coach, named “Tribute from the Colonies,” depicts individuals of colour from the colonies kneeling in subordination to a younger white girl who represents the Netherlands, whereas presenting her with items, in accordance to the Amsterdam Museum, the place the coach is housed.
The Dutch Empire spanned 250 years from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century, in accordance to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The empire operated in areas together with the Caribbean, Brazil, Suriname, southern Africa and Asia, the place individuals have been additionally enslaved and exploited by imperialists.
In 1990, the Curaçaoan artist Ruben La Cruz demonstrated towards the colonial vignette at a pageant in Rotterdam. Since then a number of public figures, together with an activist and two members of the Dutch parliament, have known as for the carriage to not be used.
However, these calls for grew louder after the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, when many international locations have been confronted with their racial and colonial histories.
The Golden Coach was given to Queen Wilhelmina, the primary feminine monarch of the Netherlands, in 1898. She celebrated her 18th birthday that yr, and had her coronation quickly after.

King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands attends celebrations marking his forty ninth birthday on King’s Day on April 27, 2016, in Zwolle, the Netherlands. Credit: Michel Porro/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images

Now it’s primarily used on Prince’s Day, which is when King Willem-Alexander opens the Dutch parliament on the third Tuesday in September, and makes a speech outlining the federal government’s agenda for the approaching yr, in accordance to the Dutch government website.
The carriage can also be linked to different prestigious occasions together with royal weddings and inaugurations.

King Willem-Alexander added, “The Golden Coach will be able to be driven again when the Netherlands is ready. And that is now not the case.

“All residents of this nation ought to have the ability to really feel that they’re equal and get the identical alternatives. Everyone ought to have the ability to really feel a part of what has been in-built our nation, and to the happy with that. Also these Dutch residents with ancestors who weren’t free within the East or the West.”

“As lengthy as there are individuals who reside within the Netherlands who really feel the ache of discrimination each day, the ache of the previous will solid its shadow on our time and it isn’t but over.

“Listening to and understanding each other are essential conditions for getting to reconciliation and taking away the pain in people’s souls.”

Addressing the Dutch public, he mentioned the Golden Coach could possibly be pushed once more on Prince’s Day “only if we take this road to reconciliation together,” describing it as a day when “we celebrate our democracy and our solidarity as Dutch people.”

He didn’t specify a date when the carriage could possibly be used once more.

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