Dutch King Retires Golden Coach With Slavery Images

Dutch King Willem-Alexander announced on Jan. 13 that he is retiring the traditional royal carriage known as the Golden Coach amid a racism controversy with its slavery images.

“The Golden Coach can only be used when the Netherlands is ready for it. And that is not the case at the moment,” the king said in an official video statement.

“All citizens in this country need to feel that they are equal and that they have a fair chance. Everyone needs to feel like a partner in what has been built in this country, and proud of it. This includes the Dutch people with ancestors who were not free in the East or West,” the king further said.

At the center of the controversy is an image called “Tribute of the Colonies,” which shows kneeling Black people paying tribute with produce like cocoa and sugarcane to their white masters, including a young white woman on a throne symbolizing the Netherlands.

Another image shows a young white man giving a young Black boy a book meant to portray “civilization,” according to Dutch prominent artist Nicolaas van der Waay in 1896.

The coach has been the centerpiece of an exhibition in the Amsterdam Museum since last June after it completed a renovation that lasted five years and that cost €1.2 million ($1.37 million).

Margriet Schavemaker, artistic director of the Amsterdam Museum, welcomed the king’s decision.

“We think that an object like the Golden Coach comes into its own in a museum context because there is room for deeper understanding and nuance which can start a conversation,” Schavemaker said in a statement.

Schavemaker said that the museum is making the coach available to the public to view in its courtyard for free.

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