King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden will celebrate the 375th anniversary of the New Sweden Colony, which ultimately became the city of Wilmington.
The visit was officially announced by the Swedish and Finnish embassies in Washington in coordination with the Delaware-based New Sweden Alliance. The King and Queen will be joined by Finland’s Speaker of the Parliament Eero Heinäluoma for the visit to Wilmington on Saturday, May 11.
In a statement announcing the visit, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S., Jonas Hafström says, “We will celebrate on May 11 not only the founding of the New Sweden venture in the Delaware Valley 375 years ago, but the continuing relationship between Sweden and the United States.”
The Kalmar Nyckel landed on the shores of the Christina River in 1638, establishing a settlement made up of Swedish and Finnish colonists. Finland was a part of Sweden at the time.
The royal visit is being called the highlight of a year-long celebration throughout the region of the founding of the New Sweden Colony at Fort Christina. Other events include a symposium in Philadelphia hosted by the Swedish and Finnish embassies and attended by the King and Queen of Sweden and the Finnish Parliament Speaker. There will be a wreath laying ceremony at the Finnish Monument in Chester, Pa.
In Delaware, public ceremonies will be held at “The Rocks,” the original landing site at Fort Christina State Park. The King and Queen will reenact the disembarking from the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel, a replica of the original 1638 ship. Governor Markell will initiate a state-sponsored archaeological dig for the original 1638 Fort Christina. The dignitaries will also visit Old Swedes Church, the first Lutheran Church in the New World. The evening will wrap up with a Jubilee dinner at the Chase Center on the Wilmington Riverfront.
You can learn more about the year-long schedule of events to celebrate the anniversary online at 375th.org.
Over the years, WHYY has produced a number of stories exploring the connection between Delaware and Sweden. You can watch those stories examining the history of Delaware’s connection with Sweden in the video below. You’ll see First Experiences segments produced by WHYY’s Brian Drouin about Old Swedes Church, the oldest church still standing in the US, the Kalmar Nyckel, and the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes.