Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium
Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium, Lady Moncada (born 30 September 1956) is a member of the Belgian Royal Family. She the daughter of King Leopold III of Belgium and the aunt of King Philippe of Belgium and Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Princess Marie-Esméralda is a journalist, author and documentary-maker. She is also an environmental activist with Extinction Rebellion and a campaigner for women’s rights and indigenous people’s rights.
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- The colonial system was wrong. It was an exploitation of the natural resources at the expense of the local population. In Belgium there is still a taboo on that subject, the place of Leopold II is in the museum, provided with the necessary explanation.
- The fact that our public space is dominated by images to the glory of white men, conquerors, and certain colonizers or slavers undoubtedly contributes to the sense that history celebrates the supremacy of the white race. The "discovery" of America by Christopher Columbus, regardless of the explorer's merits, reflects a Eurocentric view of the world. Wasn't it a continent that has essentially been 'discovered' since it was inhabited? His troops plundered the local wealth, enslaved the natives and spread unknown diseases.
- The colonial past has never been discussed in a transparent and systematic manner in Belgium. Many historians have certainly studied the subject, but at the political level the theme has been very little addressed, if not avoided. And the biggest gap is in education. Our 21st century multicultural society needs to know the facts, not the myths passed down from generation to generation. The detachment of the statues of Leopold II is part of a desire to purge a past partisan by the settlers, without regard for the colonized population and their suffering.
- I am accused of attacking my family and especially the person of the king. That was clearly never my intention, I know how complex and delicate the situation in Belgium is. I know that the king cannot act politically without the permission of the government. I also know how passionate my cousin is about history, but also sensitive to the aspirations and feelings of his fellow citizens. We live in a crucial moment. The opportunity for inter-community dialogue must be seized.