Saturday 19 September 2020

Gouden Koets may no longer be used on budget day amid slavery controversy

Photo: Mauvries via Depositphotos.com

The royal family’s Gouden Koets (gilded carriage) may no longer be used on official occasions such as budget day because of its connotations with colonialism, broadcaster NOS reports.

The carriage, which is used by the king and queen on ceremonial occasions such as budget day, is currently being restored and will be put on show between June and November next year at the Amsterdam Museum, state information service RVD said.

The carriage is controversial because one of its side panels, called ‘Homage of the colonies’, depicts black-skinned people paying homage to a white woman by bowing and offering gifts.

‘No official decision has been been yet but I think it unlikely the carriage will be used again on budget day, royalty correspondent Kysia Hekster told NPO radio.

The removal of the co-called ‘slave panel’ is not an option, king Willem Alexander said last year because it is part of Dutch cultural heritage.

Another reason to take the carriage out of circulation is the fact that the restoration is a costly one. ‘It is an art object and millions of euros have been spent on its restoration over the years. Can you imagine going out in the rain in it? One pot of paint thrown by a protester and the whole restoration will have to start from scratch,’ Hekster said.

The carriage was a gift from the people to queen Wilhelmina at her coronation in 1898. The cushions were embroidered by girls from the Amsterdam orphanage, which now houses the Amsterdam museum.

The carriage will be displayed in a glass box in the courtyard of the museum and its historical context – including the Dutch colonial past – explained in six of the museum’s rooms.

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