In the majestic halls of a grand stone mansion that rises from verdant fields off Pattison Avenue, the American Swedish Historical Museum's small but dedicated staff has been preparing to welcome the king and queen.

Calmly. Very calmly.

"We're excited," said Tracey Rae Beck, the museum's executive director. The fervor, however, was mostly internal.

The only sound floating through the high-ceilinged galleries Thursday morning - only 28 hours before the royals' scheduled arrival - was the mellifluent Swedish conversation that Birgitta Davis was having on the phone.

Davis, associate director of the museum, who started as a volunteer 25 years ago, was finishing some of the last logistical details. White-haired and flinty, she remembers the previous two visits by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden. And as she can attest, the honor never loses its dazzle, even if the proceedings remain understated.

"We are small but classy," said Beck. "Always classy."

With only five full-time employees, 750 member families, and an annual budget of $600,000, the museum focuses on supporting the arts, preserving the culture, and teaching the history of the Swedish American community.

In advance of the royal visit, Beck, Davis, and their coworkers had taken care of a few essentials.

They had taken out the heavy leather-bound, gold-embossed guest book. Passing the richly illustrated pages depicting the early Swedish settlers and Leni-Lenape Indians, and the scores of autographs starting with those of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolph and President Herbert Hoover, they had left the book open to a thick vellum leaf.

There, an educator on the museum staff, practiced at calligraphy, had traced two faint lines in pencil, where she will enter the date - Friday the 10th of May, Two Thousand and Thirteen - and something of the occasion: a reception in honor of the 375th anniversary of the New Sweden colony.

Below that entry, Beck said, the king and queen will sign the book once again.

It will be the first time that Beck, who joined the museum two years ago, has met the Swedish monarchs, so she has practiced the correct third-person form of address.

With prompting, she explained how it is done.

As she escorts him through the first-floor galleries, she will ask: "Would the king like to go to the next room?"

On the royal couple's previous trips, they had seen many of the exhibits - the Nobel Prize room, the impossibly intricate marquetry mural of Swedish architects and builders, and the Golden map room, its walls covered in a historic painting of Sweden on bronze leaf.

However, the exhibit about New Sweden, installed only two years ago, will be new to them. (As will, no doubt, the revelation that Queen Village was named for Sweden's Queen Christina, who was crowned at age 6.)

Measures have been taken to ensure the king and queen's safety, but other aspects of the preparation were more mundane.

Three full-leafed potted ficus plants had to be placed outside to decorate the entrance (and hide a less-than-regal-looking fan), and a caterer had to be hired for the private reception.

"It will not be a Swedish menu," said Beck. "It's not particularly easy to get good Swedish catered food in Philadelphia."

But, she assured, it will be in excellent taste.

Contact Melissa Dribben
at 215-854-2590 or mdribben@phillynews.com or @dribbenonphilly on Twitter.