WILMINGTON, Del. — A quick shot of the king of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, and the queen of Sweden, Silvia, who ‘landed’ in Wilmington via a recreation of the Kalmar Nyckel on Saturday to commemorate the 375th anniversary of the formation of New Sweden, the colony that from 1638 to 1655 was the Swedish entry into the New World colonial sweepstakes.
Swedes gave the United States, among other things, the log cabin.
The quite interesting backstory here is that of Peter Minuit, the Dutchman who once purchased the island of Manhattan from native Americans for goods worth around 60 Dutch guilders. But Minuit, who remained the director of New Netherland from 1626 to 1633 was eventually expelled from the Dutch West India Company. In response, he took up shop with the Swedes and helped them found their only colony which, despite his best efforts, ultimately came under the control of New Netherland. After Minuit helped build Fort Christina (named after the Swedish queen of the time) in New Sweden, he set off for Stockholm for more colonists, stopping along the way in the Caribbean for a tobacco transaction, but got caught in a hurricane near the island of St. Christopher and died.
Though the Swedish foothold in colonial America wasn’t incredibly large, Carl Gustaf has made several trips to Delaware during his reign, which began in 1973. Sweden’s monarch is even less powerful than the British monarch — Carl Gustaf doesn’t even appoint Sweden’s prime minister, not even as a matter of formality, nor does he have the kind of coalition-building role that the Dutch monarch had until only very recently.
In 1980, the Swedish monarchy became the first in European history to establish absolute primogeniture, meaning that the first-born child of the king, whether male or female, will become first in line to the throne, in the present case, crown princess Victoria.
The next Swedish election is set to be held only in September 2014.
Photo credit to Kevin Lees — Wilimington, Delaware, May 2012.