His ancestor, King Leopold II, ruled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 1885 until 1908. King Philippe now wants the world to know he is sorry for his direct ancestor’s abuse of African colonial subjects, sixty years after the DRC’s independence from Belgium. His written apology was made to DRC leader President Felix Tshisekedi.
Well, sorry would be a lie. He “regrets,” what his ancestor did, and the suffering of the DNC, yet would not go so far as to apologize, reported CNN.
These remarks, unprecedented for a Belgian monarch, came in response to the king’s brother, Prince Laurent, who this month minimized King Leopold II’s role against the Congolese. The BBC also said Black Lives Matter protests emanating in the US were in part responsible for bringing the world’s attention to Belgium’s reign in the DRC, when some 10 million perished due to poor living conditions and worse abuse.
King Leopold II made the DRC his personal possession, enslaving the people to extract ivory and rubber. About half-a-million died. What George Floyd’s death has done in the US is tie in the colonial narrative to mainstream press on race relations with the black community, said CNN, following police violence rooted in accusations of racism. According to the BBC, “Thousands of Belgians have demonstrated in recent weeks and statues of Belgium’s colonial leader King Leopold II have been vandalised,” while a statue in Antwerp got taken down by authorities.