Dutch royal couple shine in Jacaranda City and dodge protestors in Cape Town
Foreign press have remarked on how happy the couple has looked in South Africa…
According to Dutch media, security guards had to push away angry protestors on Friday in Cape Town, after the Dutch royal family visited the Iziko Slave Lodge museum. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands had to be escorted to their car as the gathering crowd of about 100 people protested the Netherlands’ ties to slavery in South Africa.
The Dutch royal couple have been enjoying their first state visit to South Africa (18-20 October), with mainly smiles and laughter in Pretoria with their host President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photos of the couple against the stunning backdrop of Jacaranda trees in Pretoria went viral around the world this week, with Britain’s Daily Mail saying “the royal duo looked happier than ever as they posed for photographs on a road blooming with blossom trees”.
Today there was less giggling as protestors waved signs saying ‘you are stealing our culture’, ‘we want compensation’ and ‘we were the first’.
The Dutch king apologised for slavery, on behalf of the Netherlands, in July this year in Amsterdam saying: “as your King and as a member of the government, I make this apology myself. And I feel the weight of the words in my heart and my soul.” Yesterday Ramaphosa acknowledged his apology and said in a statement that “this was an important step towards reconciliation, repair and healing of old wounds.”
Initially there were only a few protestors today, believed to be Khoisan, and they reportedly enjoyed a friendly exchange with the royal couple. However the group grew to over 100 during the couple’s visit, with angry members of the group demanding action, according to NL Times.
In an address to President Ramaphosa yesterday, the Dutch King said how “delighted” he and his wife were to be visiting “magnificent” South Africa. He said:
“We have come to South Africa to listen, and to exchange ideas on your concerns, and on everything we share. We will do so with an open mind and honest intent. We share a history which, for over a century and a half, was marked by colonialism, abuse of power and slavery. Its traces are still visible and tangible in many places.”
The King had been looking forward to visiting the Slave Lodge where he said they would “reflect on this past in all humility”.
Addressing President Ramaphosa, he said: “After our colonial ties were severed, a sense of kinship remained. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that a broad awareness of injustice towards the black population emerged in the Netherlands. Our country joined the struggle against apartheid. A struggle that succeeded thanks to people like you.”
Mandela was the only guest to invite himself to the royal wedding
King Willem-Alexander also shared a special memory of Nelson Mandela. He said: “I have many special memories of South Africa, including of course the inauguration of President Mandela, almost 30 years ago. He also celebrated our wedding with us. In fact, he was the only guest to invite himself. And he was more than welcome!”
The King also praised South Africa for its strong legislation and being the first country to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; and joked “wouldn’t it be great if you could start exporting South African sunshine to the north!”
The Dutch king added: “Every time I visit South Africa I feel uplifted by the incredible vitality, positive energy and enjoyment I find here. It’s like watching the Springboks play. Now complete with L.E.D. signals from director Rassie Erasmus.”
Next month, King Willem-Alexander will be presenting South African comedian and expat Trevor Noah with the Erasmus Prize, the youngest winner in the award’s 65-year history.
Referencing Noah’s inspiring quote “I never let the memory of something painful prevent me from trying something new”, the King said:
“Without forgetting the past, we are here to embrace new opportunities in our partnership with you. And we’re looking forward to the rest of our visit.”
During their trip, the royal couple has also visited the Apartheid Museum, Freedom Park, the Innovation Village (accelerating the green transition), met with Dutch expats living and working in South Africa and enjoyed a private dinner with the SA president and ministers. This afternoon, the royal couple’s schedule includes a visit to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.