Dutch King Apologises for Country's Historic Role in Slavery

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    The Facts

    • King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands publicly apologized for the country's involvement in historical slavery on Saturday. The monarch spoke at a ceremony recognizing the 160th anniversary of slavery's abolition in the state.

    • The Dutch King requested "forgiveness" for the "crime against humanity" and stated that the apology was a personal one, which came from the "heart and soul" of nation's head of state, who is also a member of the Dutch government.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    The history of slavery in Dutch society has so far gone unacknowledged, making the recent apologies by both the King and the Prime Minister especially significant. This recognition comes better late than never for one of the last countries in Europe to end the abhorrent practice.

    Narrative B

    This message from the Netherlands' head of state is a clear sign that the country wishes to move forwards and clear its conscience. However, it is yet to be seen whether the Netherlands' apologies will be accepted by African countries and the descendants of slaves, who would be justified in pursuing compensation. The Netherlands may need more than rhetoric to resolve historic links to the slave trade.

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