King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands apologizes for his nation's involvement in slavery

Willem-Alexander, der König

The Dutch King has officially apologized for his nation's involvement in the slave trade, stating that he was "personally and intensely" affected.

Dutch slave traders trafficked more than 600,000 people, and the nation rose to prominence as a colonial power after the 17th century, holding territories all over the world.

The practice was described as "horrific" by King Willem-Alexander on Saturday.

He claimed that the royal family did nothing to prevent it.

It was unknown prior to the event whether the King would apologize for the Royal Family's role in the practice. He was speaking at a celebration honoring the 160th anniversary of the country's abolition of slavery.

In June, a new study found that between 1675 and 1770, Dutch rulers received the equivalent of $595 million in today's currency from colonies where slavery was upheld.

King Willem-Alexander acknowledged that the "monarchs and rulers of the House of Orange took no steps against [slavery]" during his speech in Amsterdam.

"Today, I'm in front of you as your King and a member of the executive branch of government. I'd like to apologize to myself today," he said.

"I'm sorry for the blatant lack of action, and I'm asking for forgiveness today. ".

The King, who was accompanied by Queen Maxima, said that although he could not speak for the entire country, "the vast majority" of Dutch people "do support the fight for equality for all people, regardless of colour or cultural background.".

The King continued, "After recognition and repentance, we can work together on healing, reconciliation, and restoration.".

The audience at the Keti Koti Festival, which is the nation's annual commemoration of the abolition of slavery, applauded him during his speech.

Large tracts of land in what are now Indonesia, South Africa, Curaçao, and West Papua were taken over by the Netherlands during the 17th century, and it also played a significant role in the transatlantic slave trade.

Before the transatlantic slave trade was abolished in 1863, thousands of individuals were transported from Africa to Dutch colonies in the Caribbean and South America, accounting for about 5% of the total.

However, in the African country of Suriname, it persisted throughout a required 10-year transition period, causing untold grief and suffering.

The slave trade was a major source of wealth for the Netherlands, and a study by the Dutch Research Council found that it was responsible for 40% of the country's economic growth between 1738 and 1780 in just the western province of Holland.

In a speech at the Hague last year, Prime Minister Mark Rutte also expressed regret for the nation's historical involvement in slavery, stating that it needed to be recognized as "a crime against humanity" in "the clearest terms.".

Amsterdam and Rotterdam among other Dutch cities have apologized for their involvement in the trade.

But it has taken some time for the nation to confront its colonial past; the history of Dutch slavery was not included in the school curricula until 2006.

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