Dutch royals step away from traditional item over colonial ties -'Cannot rewrite the past'


King Willem-Alexander, 54, revealed the Dutch royals will not use the Golden Coach, known as ‘De Gouden Koets’, during a video clip uploaded to the family’s YouTube channel. The carriage, which hasn’t been used since 2015 as it has been under restoration, was traditionally used by monarchs as they arrive for the annual opening of parliament in the Hague.

However, one of the panels displayed a ‘Tribute from the Colonies’.

According to the Amsterdam Museum, the panel shows: “A seated white woman being presented with gifts by people of colour, some of whom are kneeling.

“It is an allegory which expresses the relationship between the Netherlands and the colonial regions in the East (Indonesia), and West (Suriname and the former Dutch Antilles, including the islands of Curaçao and Aruba).”

Willem-Alexander, who succeeded his 83-year-old mother Beatrix as monarch after she abdicated in 2013, told the channel’s 33,000 subscribers: “Our history contains much to be proud of.

“At the same time, it also offers learning material for faults to recognise and to avoid in the future.”

In the 133-second clip, he added: “We cannot rewrite the past.

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“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.”

Speaking in Dutch, the King confirmed the golden carriage would make its return once Holland is “ready”.

Willem-Alexander said: “The Golden Coach will be able to be driven again when the Netherlands is ready.

“And that is now not the case.

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However, Amsterdam Museum suggests calls grew stronger following the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

“The worldwide Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, and the associated backlash against depictions of colonial domination in the public space, accelerated opposition to the use of the coach because of the Tribute from the Colonies panel,” they said.

“A young generation of activists like De Helden van Nooit (The Heroes of Never) announced on social media that they would not stop defacing statues in the public space until the coach was no longer used.

“An online petition with the same goal, initiated by social geographer Nugah Schrestha, received almost 8,000 signatures.”


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