The issue here is that WA does not like to be told what to do by anyone and certainly not by 'woke' public opinion. He's a very bad historian, always was, His and other's argument that we should not remove certain symbols just because we view them differently now should really be ashamed. Can you imagine using that argument to keep symbols from a more recent traumatic era in our history in the public space? Notwithstanding the brief hype surrounding the coming of age of Amalia, WA is rapidly falling in obscurity because now also his public role is further diminished - by the pandemic - and he feels it so he holds on to whatever he has left even if it's the most ridiculous of royal attributes: a ghastly ostentatious golden carriage unfitting our monarchy that's only rivalled in obscene opulence by the Golden State Coach in the UK. Sadly WA continues to lack any common sense and vision. He would have been applauded nationwide - except perhaps by extreme right wing politicians - if he simply had said: this coach does not belong in the 21 century monarchy in the Netherlands and I will relegated it to the Royal museum Het Loo where it can be viewed as one of the many oddities of Dutch royal history.
The painted panels can easily be removed but as i wrote the current sovereign considers that historic fraud and does not want to participate in that.
Again the panel does no display slavery but colonial history. Both are now frowned upon in Dutch society.
At the same time those voicing strong opinions on the panel all find it completely normal to voice their moral superiority over China when it comes to human rights, Russia when it comes to gay rights and many of the Dutch third world help is linked to women's rights. So we still tell other parts of the world they are not as evolved as us and we even use economic measures (third world aide, trade connections etc) to support those claims.
I wonder how in 135 years from now Dutch citizens will judge those kind of efforts and ideas.
My take on it is that we have not learned much. The panel shows the actual importance, economically, on the world stage and morally the Dutch colonial empire had in 1898 in the country. That is a fact and something that should be discussed and openly accepted. Only if that is properly discussed can people move on. HM seems to feel that in time there may be a point where the coach can be used again. I think he might be right.
Curious fact is that the young Queen Wilhelmina really did not want any gifts for her investiture and had to be persuaded to accept the coach as it would have been an insult to the people of Amsterdam who collected the money and had it designed and build. Had Wilhelmina had her way the coach would not have existed or would have remained Amsterdam property unaccepted by her.
Nonetheless, the depictions of black and brown skinned subjects of the former Dutch colonial empire kneeling before enthroned white people still brings back associations with their former enslaved state. if it is not possible to remove the panels without necessarily destroying them I guess they might as well retire them along with the coach to a museum however unfortunate that may appear.
I have to correct you. The golden coach was made in 1898 so decades after Wilhelmina's father Willem III signed the law abolishing slavery.
However one of the side panels depicts an allegoric scene of the colonies paying tribute to the Netherlands.
It shows how important in 1898 the possession of the various colonies was for the country. Not just financial, but also for the standing of the country in the world and even in a weird way the call of bringing European prosperity, faith and values to other parts of the world.
At present the colonial past of the country is subject of various debates. The king has decided not to use the recently restored coach for the time being. Once the discussions have concluded and Dutch society is ready for the coach to be used again he or his successor can start to use the coach again. The coach belongs to the Orange-Nassau foundations so is private property.
Behind palace walls talks about the future of the coach have gone on since it went into restoration. HM has from the start refused to replace the panel as he sees that as the worst possible scenario and denying history.
Im not sure if we'll ever see the coach again. The Princess of Orange has already stated to the writer of the book that appeared for her 18th birthday that she wants to use the creme caleche as her wedding carriage.
"The Netherlands' King Willem-Alexander has announced that Dutch royals will cease using a historic golden carriage amid a debate over slavery links.
Critics say that one side of the horse-drawn carriage, called De Gouden Koets, is decorated with an image that glorifies the country's colonial past".
Why don't they just remove the offending panels?
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