Let us not lose each other, king says in his Christmas message

King Willem-Alexander giving his Christmas speech last year. Photo: RVD/Bart Maat
King Willem-Alexander gives his Christmas speech. Photo: Bart Maat

King Willem-Alexander spoke of the ‘shadows’ hanging over the Netherlands due to money worries, climate change and the war in Ukraine in his annual Christmas message to the nation.

And the king emphasized the importance of continuing to listen to people who think differently.

‘Democracy does not mean that those who shout loudest get their way,’ the king said. Democracy means working together with respect for everyone’s fundamental rights and on solutions that the majority can identify with.

Taking everyone’s interests into account are crucial, the king said. ‘Let us make sure we do not lose each other,’ he said. ‘Give each other the benefit of the doubt… My call to each and everyone of you is to get involved, listen in, think along, join in!’

The king also spoke in detail about the apologies given by the government last week for the Netherlands’ role in slavery. The statement is the start of long journey in which the pain of the past has been recognized, he said.

‘Over the past year, my wife and I have spoken to people of all ages about this topic, including descendants of people who lived in slavery several generations ago,’ the king said.We will remain involved in this coming commemorative year.’

2023 will mark 150 years since slavery was finally abolished in the Dutch colonies.

No-one today carries the blame for the inhumanity of the day, the king said. But by recognizing the wrong that had been done, ‘we are laying the fundament for building a future together.’

Read the speech (in Dutch)

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