King of Netherlands makes historic apology for Slavery



Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander issued a historic royal apology on Saturday, July 1 for the Netherlands’ involvement in slavery, saying he felt “personally and intensely” affected.

In December 2022, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte already officially apologised on behalf of the government.

Since 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement took over political discussions, the Netherlands has opened up on the colonial and slave trading past that turned it into one of the world’s richest countries.

A Dutch study released in June found that the royal family earned 545 million euros ($595 million) in today’s terms between 1675 and 1770 from the colonies, where slavery was widespread.

The Dutch funded their “Golden Age” of empire and culture in the 16th and 17th centuries by shipping around 600,000 Africans as part of the slave trade, mostly to South America and the Caribbean.

On Saturday, thousands of descendants of slaves from the South American nation of Suriname and the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao attended the celebrations in Amsterdam for “Keti Koti” (“breaking the chains” in Surinamese) to commemorate 150 years since the practice was abolished.

“Today I’m standing here in front of you as your king and as part of the government. Today I am apologising personally,” Willem-Alexander said to loud cheers from the crowd.

“I am intensely experiencing this with my heart and soul,” the monarch told those attending the event.

“Slave trading and slavery is recognised as a crime against humanity,” the king said.

“The monarchs and rulers of the House of Orange took no steps against it.”

“Today, I am asking for forgiveness for the crystal-clear lack of action, on this day when we are commemorating slavery in the Netherlands,” Willem-Alexander said in his speech, broadcast live on television.

The current king’s distant ancestors, Willem III, Willem IV and Willem V, were among the biggest earners from what the report called the Dutch state’s “deliberate, structural and long-term involvement” in slavery, stated.

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