The 60-year-old monarch also apologised for the suffering and humiliation caused after the end of Leopold II’s administration of the Congo Free State (1885 to 1908 ) when the country became Belgian Congo.
“I would like to express my deepest regrets for these injuries of the past, the pain of which is now revived by the discrimination still too present in our societies,” King Philippe wrote in the letter.
“I will continue to fight all forms of racism. I encourage the reflection that has been initiated by our parliament so that our memory is definitively pacified.”
There is a renewed focus on the European nation’s history after the death of George Floyd in police custody in the US and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed. Thousands of Belgians have demonstrated in recent weeks and statues of Belgium’s colonial leader King Leopold II have been vandalised. Authorities in Antwerp have removed a statue of him from a public square.