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Dutch royals to renew ties with visit to Albany

King Willem-Alexander leaves Nieuwe Kerk or New Church in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, after the inauguration Tuesday April 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Carl Court, Pool)
Carl Court/Pool AFP
King Willem-Alexander leaves Nieuwe Kerk or New Church in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, after the inauguration Tuesday April 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Carl Court, Pool)

The king and queen of the Netherlands are visiting the U.S. this week, stopping in Albany Wednesday.  

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima arrived in the country Monday, landing in Georgia before heading north to Albany. According to an official announcement by the crown, the visit will highlight the strong bilateral ties between the Dutch and the U.S. going back centuries. The royals' itinerary includes a morning reception at the governor’s mansion where they are scheduled to meet with CEOs of Dutch companies active in the Capital Region. A memorandum of understanding to strengthen cooperation in the semiconductor industry will be signed by New York and the Netherlands.

They'll spend the afternoon at tech hub NY CREATES. Chief Operating Officer Paul Kelly says the Dutch have a long history in semiconductors. "And the organizations like ASM and ASML are two companies that are founded in Dutch heritage that are primary organizations and companies used in the semiconductor industry for the manufacturing of wafers and computer chips," Kelly said. "It's of that reason that the royal family decided to come to Albany Nanotech for a visit. We will tour the complex and focus on some of the tools made by Dutch organizations, and focus primarily on those tools that allow for advanced geometries in the cutting edge R and D of computer chips."

The royals are also scheduled to speak with young people about climate change at Schuyler Mansion. Philip Schuyler descended from a prominent Dutch family who settled in Colonial Albany. The Revolutionary War General in the Continental Army later served as a U.S. Senator.

Jim Schermerhorn is with The Dutch Settlers Society of Albany. "Dutch roots there with Philip Schuyler. For us, it's just a recognition that the ties still exist, that the Dutch were here in the early 1600s. They established this area, which a lot of folks don't know. Everybody knows where New England is, but not where New Netherland was. It was only around for only a short time 1624 to 1664, so about 40 years, but it did have a lasting impact. A lot of the folks here can still trace their ancestry back to those original settlers. So there's other folks, Poles, Croats, Italians, you name it, they were here during that time period, and a lot of what we think about when we think about the United States and America, that melting pot, different cultures together, a lot of that can be attributed to that time period when the Dutch were here," Schermerhorn said.

Schuyler gained notoriety as a slaveowner in 2020 as unrest spread nationwide following the killing of George Floyd. That year Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan signed an executive order directing the removal of a statue of Schuyler from in front of city hall. Schermerhorn says history won't be changed by removing the statue. "I think we need to learn from the past. Ultimately. There were some suggestions that the statute should remain in have an, you know, a placard or some type of interpretational, signage to, you know, show folks that Philip Schuyler did these good things. And you know, he was also a slaveholder, as many of our forefathers were, American forefathers were," said Schermerhorn. 

Another locally sensitive issue dates back to 1959, when the king’s mother, Princess Beatrix, made a famous visit to Albany that is said to have inspired an embarrassed Governor Nelson Rockefeller to explore building the Empire State Plaza, which displaced hundreds of residents.

"Whole neighborhoods were taken down. Maybe from one person's point of view, they were older, rundown neighborhoods, but somebody lived there, right? I don't know if a remark was made by the then Princess, although I'd be surprised if she did. I think it might have been other feedback maybe that the governor either he got through others or he observed," Schermerhorn said. 

Beatrix eventually became queen in 1980 and abdicated in 2013.

The royals' day in Albany ends with an evening reception back at the governor’s mansion.

Their trip concludes in New York City Thursday.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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