Dutch King Willem-Alexander asked for forgiveness and apologized for his country’s role in the slave trade in a speech on Saturday.
“Today I’m standing here in front of you as your king and as part of the government. Today I am apologizing myself,” Willem-Alexander said at an official event marking 150 years since the end of slavery in Dutch colonies.
One former lawmaker claimed to a Dutch broadcaster that he started crying as the king apologized.
Willem-Alexander also said he has authorised a study into the role of the royal family in slavery in the Netherlands as a study published last month showed that the royal family had earned the modern-day equivalent of 545 million euros just from the slave trade alone.
Dutch PM Rutte did not offer compensation to descendants of enslaved people when he apologized last year in December for the Dutch’s role in slavery.
Before the king’s speech on Saturday, Black Manifesto and The Black Archives groups marched under the banner reading “No healing without reparations.”
Speaking to a US wire service, Black Archives director Mitchell Esajas said, “An apology should be tied to a form of repair and reparatory justice or reparations.”
The harrowing colonial history of the Netherlands has been under renewed scrutiny following the aftermath of the race riots in the US.
The Dutch’s involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade began in the late 1500s but it took them last than a hundred years to be a major global slave trader.