A Golden Coach with an uncertain future – Exhibition at the Amsterdam Museum

Photo by Moniek Bloks

The Dutch royal Golden Coach was gifted to Queen Wilhelmina in 1898 on the occasion of her inauguration from the citizens of Amsterdam, and she first used it on her wedding day on 7 February 1901. Since then, it has been used for ceremonial occasions, such as Prinsjesdag – when the monarch addresses a joint session of the States-General of the Netherlands.

Queen Wilhelmina viewing The Golden Coach at the Palace of Industry on the day after her inauguration on Wednesday, September 7, 1898. Collection: Amsterdam City Archives.

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(As you can see, the glass enclosure makes it quite difficult to see and photograph the coach)

The coach itself is made of teak wood and is mostly covered in gold leaf. It also has several paintings by Nicolaas van der Waay and symbolic ornaments. In 2011, several members of parliament suggested removing the left panel, which portrays the Tribute from the colonies, which, according to activists, showed slaves making gestures of submission to the royal house. However, Historian Susan Legêne says the panel refers to the relations with the colonies at that point. This discussion has led to people questioning what should happen to the coach.

Tribute of the Colonies (public domain)

Before going on display at the Amsterdam Museum, it was renovated, but there is still no definite plan. Should it go back into service? The museum also offers a room for debate on this subject, and King Willem-Alexander will decide its fate after the closing of the exhibition.

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The restoration of the coach

For now, the golden coach stands in the courtyard of the Amsterdam Museum in a glass enclosure. There are also several other items on display – such as Queen Wilhelmina’s wedding dress and other items relating to the house of Orange and the gifting of the coach.

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Overall, I enjoyed the exhibition as it came with plenty of information, even if you didn’t use the audio tour. I loved the addition of Queen Wilhelmina’s wedding dress as I had never seen it before in real life. The study room used for discussion on the future of the coach was a really good idea, and it looked like it was being used well. However, I was a little disappointed by how badly you’re able to actually see the coach due to all the reflections on the glass.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by a publication, which is available in both Dutch and English.

The exhibition will run until 27 February 2022. You can plan your visit here.

About Moniek Bloks 2226 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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