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Dutch King Apologizes for His Country’s Role in Slavery

The King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander on Saturday formally apologized for his country’s active role in the slave trade, adding he could not speak for the entire nation.

After the 17th Century, the Netherlands appeared as a major colonial power, holding territories across the globe, and Dutch slave traders trafficked more than 600,000 people.

King Willem-Alexander described the slave trade as a heinous practice, saying he felt “personally and intensely” affected.

While speaking at an event marking the 160th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the country, the King said the Royal Family did not take action against the then-trade slavery.

In front of a huge crowd in the capital city of Amsterdam, the King said, “Time has changed and the chain has really broken.”

“Today I’m standing here in front of you as your King and as part of the government. Today I am apologizing myself,” he said.

In his remakes, King Willem-Alexander acknowledged that he could not speak for the entire nation, but he told the crowd that “the vast majority” of Dutch citizens “do support the fight for equality for all people, regardless of color or cultural background”.

The apology comes amid a sweeping overhaul of Holland’s colonial past and its involvement in the Atlantic slave trade in the country’s former Asian colonies.

In December 2020, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte admitted that the Netherlands had active involvement in the Atlantic Slave trade. Rutte apologized for his country’s engagement but said the government would not compensate anyone.