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Black and Asian people offering gifts of cocoa and sugar cane to a white netherland woman

Because of racist images on the side of the carriage, the vehicle is to be taken out of circulation until further notice, according to Willem-Alexander. In the 17th century, the Netherlands occupied large territories in what is now Indonesia, South Africa, Curaçao and New Guinea. The kingdom was responsible for the trade of countless slaves. In recent years, many Dutch people have called for a confrontation with the colonial past. Last year, the mayor of Amsterdam officially apologised for the city's role in the slave trade. Prime Minister Mark Rutte had rejected such an apology on behalf of the nation.

Traditionally, the royal couple goes to the opening of parliament in September at the "Gouden Koets", as it is called in Dutch. But now it will be banished to the museum for even longer. The carriage has long been the subject of controversy. Some see it as a symbol of the monarchy, others as an object of racism and oppression.

For on one side wall of the carriage is the work "Homage to the Colonies" by the artist Nicolaas van der Waay. In 1896, he wanted to use the illustration to show how the Netherlands brought the gift of "civilisation" to the colonies. Several black and Asian people can be seen offering gifts of cocoa and sugar cane to a white woman - the Netherlands.

"Shadows of the past"

In a video message on Thursday, King Willem-Alexander said he understood that the carriage was offensive to many people. He added that the country must collectively face its colonial past of some 200 years. "There is no reason to look at what happened through today's glasses and simply condemn it," the king said. It would not be enough to simply lock away historical objects. Instead, one would have to go deeper and take time to come to terms with racism. "As long as there are people in the Netherlands who feel the pain of discrimination every day, the past will cast its shadow over our time," the monarch said. Therefore, the carriage will not be used until further notice.

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Das Niederländische Kolonialreich

Die Niederlande waren besonders im 17. Jahrhundert eine der bedeutendsten Kolonialmächte der Welt. Um 1650 erreichte das niederländische Handelsimperium seinen Höhepunkt, als etwa die Hälfte des Welthandels von den Niederländern (Republik der Sieben Vereinigten Provinzen) umgeschlagen wurde. Diese Epoche wird auch das Goldene Zeitalter der Niederlande genannt.

Map of the Dutch Colonial Territories

The map shows all territories that ever belonged to the Dutch colonial empire (dark green: possessions of the Dutch West India Company, light green: possessions of the Dutch East India Company).

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