King retires coach over slavery links

The golden carriage features images deemed racially insensitive

The Dutch King Willem-Alexander has announced that the royals will stop using a historic golden coach which features a controversial image showing colonial subjects offering produce to a white woman, symbolizing the Netherlands.

On Thursday, King Willem-Alexander accepted that the carriage, called De Gouden Koets, was offensive to a large number of people as he announced its retirement. 

The carriage has been out of use since 2015 and features an image known as ‘Tribute from the Colonies.’ It depicts black and Asian people, one of whom is kneeling, presenting cocoa and sugarcane to a seated young white woman.

Also featured in the image is a seated man offering a book to a young boy. In 1896, the artist Nicolaas van der Waay said the image intended to portray the Netherlands’ gift of “civilization” to its colonies.

The image has attracted increased criticism in recent years, with critics claiming it glorifies the nation’s colonial past. 

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Announcing the move in a video, King Willem-Alexander admitted that banning historical objects and symbols is not the solution to dealing with the country’s dubious past, but called on the nation to face up to its colonial history.

“There is no point in condemning and disqualifying what has happened through the lens of our time,” he said.

“As long as there are people living in the Netherlands who feel the pain of discrimination on a daily basis, the past will still cast its shadow over our time,” the king added.

The coach has remained in the Amsterdam Museum following a lengthy restoration process which concluded last year. Traditionally it was used to carry the monarch to the opening of Parliament.

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