By Tim Jimenez, Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The King and Queen of Sweden are in the Delaware Valley, celebrating the 375th anniversary of the founding of the New Sweden colony. Their official welcome took place at Philadelphia’s City Hall Friday afternoon.
Security was tighter than usual and the red carpet was rolled out on the second floor of City Hall.
“On behalf of the City of Philadelphia, let me formally welcome their majesties, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden,” announced Mayor Michael Nutter in front of a room of city and Swedish officials.
The mayor exchanged pleasantries and gifts with the royal visitors. Both sides were speaking of the historic ties between Sweden and this area which dates back centuries.
“Swedish settlers lived in the region 50 years before William Penn arrived on our shores in a settlement called New Sweden,” Mr. Nutter explained.
“It’s wonderful to be back. We were here 25 years ago also,” King Gustaf said. “We came in those early days, 375 years ago, together, to build this big country. We were merchants and wanted to make trade. And now we have these good, old relationships. There are big possibilities to expand the trade between the two countries, especially to Philadelphia and this part of your great nation.”
The ties between Sweden and Philadelphia have continued through the years. In the late 1970s’ the city’s Southwark neighborhood was renamed ‘Queen Village’ after Sweden’s Queen Christina. Also, the American Swedish Historical Museum in F.D.R Park in South Philadelphia, on the King and Queen’s itinerary, is the oldest Swedish museum in the country.
Following the press conference at City Hall, the royals made their way to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. They were also slated to visit The Barnes Museum.
On Saturday, the King and Queen are scheduled to visit the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia and make trips to Chester and the state of Delaware. Their majesties came to the area after visiting New York and Washington D.C. earlier in the week.