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Swedish royals visit Philly

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia met with Mayor Nutter and toured the city.

KING CARL XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden stopped by City Hall yesterday to say "hej" to Mayor Nutter and commemorate the 375th anniversary of New Sweden, the early colonial settlement where Wilmington and Philadelphia would one day rise.

The royal couple are on a U.S. tour with other stops in Washington, Wilmington and New York. Nutter and the royals exchanged gifts and pleasantries before checking out the Barnes Foundation, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the American Swedish Historical Museum in FDR Park in South Philly.

Gustaf mixed in some business with the niceties at City Hall.

"We came those early days 375 years ago together to build this big country. And as today, we were merchants, we wanted to make trade, and that would be what we want to do also now," Gustaf said, adding there are "big possibilities to expand this trade between the two countries, and especially to Philadelphia."

Nutter called Sweden "one of the world's most stable and egalitarian democracies."

Coronated in 1973, Gustaf has aimed to be a modern king, dropping part of his formal title. He eliminated male preference in royal succession and has taken an interest in environmental issues. His motto is, "For Sweden - with the times."

You might recognize him from TV as the guy who hands out the Nobel Prizes each year.

The royal couple has been in Philly before, once during the 1976 Bicentennial celebration and again in 1998.

Founded in 1638 and ceded to the Netherlands in 1655, New Sweden ("Nya Sverige" in Swedish) was a brief but important chapter in Philly's history. The city's Swedish roots are the reason the Philadelphia flag is blue and yellow. And Swedish settlers in the Philly region introduced the log cabin to the New World.

Gloria Dei Church, or Old Swedes' Church, at Columbus Boulevard and Washington Avenue, dates back to 1697 and is the oldest church in Pennsylvania and one of the oldest in the country.