ARCHIVE – The Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima come to visit the Dutch Chamber Choir in the Konzerthaus. Photo: Georg Hochmuth/APA/dpa
“A thorough knowledge of the past is essential in order to understand historical facts and developments and to deal with their impact on people and communities as clearly and honestly as possible,” the king said on Tuesday. “I think it is important that this knowledge also becomes available in relation to the role of the House of Orange-Nassau in colonial history.”
The announcement of the inquiry into the role of royalty comes just before the cabinet is set to formally apologize for slavery. That should happen on December 19th.
The king’s ancestors probably owned slaves themselves and were also involved in the transatlantic slave trade through the Dutch West India Company, as reported by the public broadcaster NOS. The royal house is also said to have benefited from the flow of money from its former colonial possessions, the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.
The investigation should last three years and range from the late 16th century to the post-colonial present, the royal family said. Leiden University is to carry out the investigation together with an independent commission.