Sweden's royals drop by Philly
PHILADELPHIA — Members of Sweden's royal family visited Philadelphia on Friday as part of a four-day trip marking the 375th anniversary of the founding of a Scandinavian colony in America.
Mayor Michael Nutter welcomed King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia to City Hall, where the blue and yellow colors of Philadelphia's municipal flag pay homage to Swedish colonists who arrived in the area 50 years before city founder William Penn.
“The city of Philadelphia and the nation of Sweden have a great deal of shared heritage,” Nutter said.
The royals were commemorating the founding of New Sweden, a settlement in present-day Wilmington, Del., about 25 miles southwest of Philadelphia. The first Swedish and Finnish colonists arrived there by boat in 1638, eventually spreading out to areas that became parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.
In Philadelphia, Swedish settlers established what is now the oldest church in Pennsylvania — Gloria Dei, also called Old Swedes' — in the city's Queen Village neighborhood, which was named for Sweden's Queen Christina.
King Carl XVI Gustaf spoke of the colonists' merchant heritage and how continued good relations between Sweden and the United States represent “big possibilities to expand this trade between the two countries, and especially to Philadelphia.”
“We came those early days, 375 years ago, together to build this big country,” the king said. “And, as today, we were merchants, we wanted to make trade. And that is what we want to do also now.”
Sweden's monarchy has only ceremonial duties, such as supporting charities and promoting its businesses abroad.
The mayor gave the royal couple a commemorative plate to mark their visit. They had previously seen in the city in 1976 and 1998.
“Many things have changed since that time,” Nutter noted.
He then traveled with the king and queen to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The couple was also slated to visit the American Swedish Historical Museum in south Philadelphia.
On Saturday, the royals will attend events outside Philadelphia and in Delaware.
The king and queen visited New York and Washington this week.