“Only if we take this road to reconciliation together, the Golden Coach can drive again on Prinsjesdag.” King Willem-Alexander has caused many reactions with his video message that he will no longer use the Golden Coach on official occasions.

One is disappointed, the other relieved, but the video message also raises questions. People are curious in which scenario the carriage – which is controversial because of the side panel ‘Hulde der KoloniĆ«n’ that glorifies the colonial past – can again drive through the streets of The Hague on the third Tuesday of September.

splits

From the wording of the king it appears that he is in a split, because he does not make a final decision about the fate of the Golden Coach. He seems to want to show understanding for both the supporters and the opponents:

Some supporters of the carriage say on social media that the king has succumbed to left-wing activists. “It’s nice that the king takes everyone’s feelings into account,” said someone on Twitter. “But as he says, you can’t change the past. That’s why the Royal House should be able to use the Golden Coach!”

Opponents’ reactions to the video message were mixed. On the one hand, they are relieved that the carriage is no longer in use for the time being, but there are also question marks as to why it is a temporary decision.

“I had a strange taste in my mouth when I heard that,” says Mitchell Esajas, co-founder of the black heritage archive The Black Archives. “As far as I’m concerned, it should be moved permanently to the future Slavery Museum,” he explains in Nieuws en Co on NPO Radio 1.

The king’s decision is striking in several respects, explains reporter Royal House Jozephine Trehy. Firstly, such a thing is normally never announced by video message, but via a press release. “You could say that Willem-Alexander tries to keep up with the times and that this form comes across as more personal. It also gives more weight to the decision.”

vague

She also notices that the king keeps an opening with his formulation: the carriage will be able to drive again when the Netherlands is ready. “It remains unclear what exactly needs to happen in the public discussion in the coming years so that the Golden Coach can be used again,” says Trehy.

“It is also clear that Willem-Alexander does not want to take sides, and as king he cannot do that either. It is the king’s role to connect. But that is difficult in a discussion where people are so directly opposed to each other.” The opponents of the carriage say: it refers to our colonial slavery past and is offensive. While proponents say: it is our cultural heritage and tradition.

Reconciliation

According to the king, only by listening to each other and showing understanding can there be reconciliation in the discussion about the carriage. Given the major contradictions between supporters and opponents, this seems difficult to achieve.

“I can’t imagine that people from the black community and people who think critically about the colonial past will think differently about this in the future,” Esajas sums up.

The gilded carriage is currently still in the Amsterdam Museum. Artistic director Margriet Schavemaker was surprised at the timing of Willem-Alexander’s decision. Because at the exhibition, which will run until February, visitors will investigate what the future of the Golden Coach should be, according to the visitors.

Incidentally, Schavemaker had expected that this decision would come sooner or later:

Ultimately, Willem-Alexander cannot take too many risks in this discussion, says Trehy. His popularity has been declining since the holiday to Greece and even after that there have been some missteps, such as Amalia’s last party when she turned 18, she emphasizes.

“The question is whether this decision will help to improve the image of the royal family. Because also among the direct supporters, the Orange fans, there are many people who think this discussion is nonsense and would prefer to see the golden carriage drive.”

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