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Crown Princess Victoria
to Honor New Sweden Pioneers

Crown Princess Victoria

Photo: Mikael Jansson
Courtesy of The Royal Court, Stockholm

Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria, 25, will visit historic sites in the Delaware Valley in April to kick-off a series of events celebrating the 365th Jubilee of the New Sweden Colony, according to Herbert R. Rambo, Governor of the Philadelphia-based Swedish Colonial Society. With visits to Swedesboro, Philadelphia and Wilmington, Princess Victoria will continue her family's tradition of honoring Swedish heritage in the United States.

The Crown Princess, eldest child of His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, and Her Majesty Queen Silvia, will be accompanied on her two-day visit by His Excellency Jan Eliasson, Ambassador of Sweden, and Mrs. Kerstin Eliasson.

"Invitations are being sent to dignitaries in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania," said Sandra S. Pfaff, co-chair of the New Sweden Jubilee events, "and we are hopeful that the governors, mayors and legislators from all three states will attend." Ms. Pfaff, with fellow co-chairs Frances O. Allmond and Jayne S. Huntington, met recently with officials at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington to plan the menu for the gala luncheon where the princess will unveil two recently discovered portraits from the New Sweden period.

On April 4th, Princess Victoria's first stop will be Trinity Episcopal (Old Swedes') Church in Swedesboro, NJ, settled by Swedish immigrants in the 17th century. The princess will meet with local fourth graders and dedicate historical markers explaining Trinity Church's history at Trinity Square.

The princess will sit in the same chair occupied by her father when he visited Trinity Church in 1976. Trinity Church Vicar, the Rev. Dr. Raewynne J. Whiteley, will lead a Prayer of Thanksgiving and give the princess a tour of one of the region's most historic churches. "It is a great honor to have the Crown Princess join us in celebrating 300 years of Christian ministry in Swedesboro," Dr. Whiteley said.

"What a perfect symbol of America that a young Swedish princess and an Australian minister should meet on consecrated ground in a small town where citizens from a variety of nations and religious persuasions can worship freely and live together harmoniously," observed Alfred Nicolosi, Publicist for the Swedish Colonial Society who, like many of the residents of Swedesboro, is the son of immigrants.

"Among the approximately 50 local children who will attend the church service and park dedication are some who can trace their ancestry back to the first New Sweden settlers," added Beth Linnerson-Daly, Educational Consultant with the Swedish Colonial Society.

Eminent New Sweden historian, Dr. Peter S. Craig, himself a descendant of one of the first immigrants, concurred. "From my own studies and research covering 20 years, I estimate there are at least 25 million persons living today who are descended from the 17th century Swedish colonists on the Delaware."

Anticipation of the princess's visit this spring has stirred interest in local history among residents like Jeanne Jablonski, an art teacher at Logan Township School. For years her students have illustrated scenes from local history, learning about Peter Minuit's voyage in 1638, the clothing worn by people in colonial times and the Native Americans whose stone arrowheads and axes are still found in fields around Swedesboro.

"This area was known as 'The Plymouth on the Delaware' because the early immigrants settled along the Raccoon Creek. The New Stockholm Plantation - now the Bridgeport and Repaupo sections of Logan - included the village of Raccoon," she said. Her students dedicated a plaque to the early settlers at the Logan Township Municipal Building two years ago.

For long-time Swedesboro resident Edie Rohrman, Project Manager for Trinity Church's recently completed ten-year, million-dollar restoration work (funded in part by the NJ Historic Preservation Trust) the royal visit has special meaning. When the princess arrives in April, Ms. Rohrman will have met three generations of the Swedish Royal family, including the princess's father, His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf and her great-uncle, Prince Bertil. Ms. Rohrman's father, the late Rev. Parker F. Auten, was Rector of Trinity Church from 1941 to 1977.

From Swedesboro, Princess Victoria will travel to Philadelphia to open a special exhibit on John Ericsson at the American Swedish Historical Museum. "Ericsson invented the Civil War iron-clad battleship U.S.S. Monitor, that revolutionized naval warfare. He also adapted the screw propeller for marine transportation, made numerous adaptations that improved steam and other heat engines, and experimented with solar energy long before anyone else saw the sun as a potential energy source," commented Richard Walldron, Executive Director of the museum. We're hoping that many residents of our region who have not visited our museum will have the opportunity to discover its treasures, especially during the weekend of April 5-6, when admission to the ASHM will be free in Ericsson's honor," Waldron said.

Other notable Swedish-Americans include aviator Charles A. Lindberg, Jr., poet Carl Sandburg, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Nobel Prize winning physicists Carl David Anderson and Glenn T. Seaborg, who discovered positrons and plutonium, respectively.

As the birthplace of our nation, Philadelphia has special significance for the princess, an avid student of political science and history at Yale University from 1998 to 2000. Sweden was the first European country not involved in the conflict to recognize the newly independent nation following the Revolutionary War.

On Saturday, April 5th, Princess Victoria will be in Wilmington to see several important sites that have survived from the New Sweden period. One is "the Rocks," a natural wharf on the Christina River where on March 29th, 1638, approximately 30 men from Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Germany disembarked from their tiny ships, Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip, after a dangerous five-month ocean crossing that began in Gothenburg the previous November.

In 1639 Anthoni, a free Black man born in Angola, West Africa, arrived on the Fogel Grip, foreshadowing the arrival of immigrants from every region of the world who would make America unique among nations.

Since it was a Swedish expedition, the settlement was named Fort Christina in honor of Sweden's 12-year-old queen.

During the 350th Jubilee in 1988, the princess's parents sailed up the Christina River on a small ship in the heart of the modern city of Wilmington, which still maintains cultural and economic ties with Kalmar, its sister city in Sweden.

Many organizations are participating in the Jubilee activities. "Our historical re-enactors will welcome the princess to "the Rocks," said the New Sweden Centre's Director, Marianne Mackenzie, whose late husband, Malcolm L. Mackenzie, devoted much of his life to redevelopment of the Seventh Street Peninsula that encompasses the Swedish heritage sites to be visited by the princess.

A monumental sculpture of the Kalmar Nyckel by Swedish-American artist Carl Milles was dedicated here in 1938 by Prince Bertil during the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley.

At the nearby Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard, the Crown Princess will tour a 1997 replica of the ship to see the close quarters immigrants endured during their dangerous ocean crossings. The princess's visit honors those who lost their lives opening up a new world, as well as those who made the trip successfully and their descendants. Steve Luthultz, Executive Director of the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation said, "Our ship is a unique treasure we're all proud of. With her major presence she makes ordinary events genuinely special. No one ever forgets his or her time aboard this ship. We are deeply honored by the Crown Princess's visit and eager to show her the results of our 15-year project."

The princess will again follow in her father's footsteps when she visits Holy Trinity (Old Swedes') Church in Wilmington, the oldest of eight surviving historic Swedish churches. Jo Thompson, Director of the Old Swedes Foundation, will show Princess Victoria candlesticks given by her parents and an altar cloth embroidered by 92-year old King Gustaf V in 1950.

A meeting with representatives of the Lenape Nation will follow, recognizing the assistance provided to Swedish and Finnish settlers by the Native People of the Delaware Valley and the good relations with Sweden that continue today.

The Royal Visit will conclude with a gala luncheon at the Hotel du Pont where the princess will unveil two rare portraits found in the Nordic Museum in Stockholm by Hans Ling, of Uppsala, while researching his family's history. Mr. Ling, Legal Adviser to Sweden's National Heritage Board, has a remarkable story to tell his grandchildren concerning the mystery of the missing paintings. Asked about the great interest the portraits of his ancestors have sparked, Ling responded, "My first reaction was astonishment that my discovery woke such immediate enthusiasm in America. My feeling now is a great satisfaction that I have contributed to saving these paintings from disappearing into the darkness of lost memories." Mr. Ling will travel from Sweden to the Delaware Valley to take part in the Jubilee celebration.

The discovery and authentication of these works by Gustavus Hesselius, the Philadelphia area's only portrait painter at the time, is a remarkable detective story that spanned two continents and applied modern science's most advanced technology. Through painstaking research in Sweden and America, Dr. Craig has verified that these faces looking at us across three centuries are indeed those of one of the first ministers of the New Sweden Colony, Ericus Björk, and his lovely wife, Christina Stalcop, whose Mona Lisa smile evokes a sense of mystery.

Dr. Barbara Benson, Director of the Historical Society of Delaware, said the paintings are on loan from the Nordic Museum for five years. "It's a wonderful opportunity to be able to display these paintings that have survived so long through tumultuous times and two trips across the Atlantic, "Dr. Benson added. The public is encouraged to view the paintings at the Historical Society, Fifth and Market Streets, Wilmington.

Only 28 years old when Hesselius painted her, Christina, who was born in the Colony in 1686, was almost the same age as her royal visitor. Like Christina, the princess is well educated and confident, embracing life with hope and enthusiasm, despite the somber challenges facing her as she carries the legacy of New Sweden into a new millennium.

In a recent interview with HELLO magazine, Princess Victoria said, "The prospect of being queen is something I can't get out of my head, even though it's in the future. I don't stop focusing on the job with which I've been entrusted."

Written by Alfred Nicolosi.

Electronic files are available on request.

Visit our award-winning website, designed and maintained by Ron Hendrickson, at: www.ColonialSwedes.org, where you can read about Trinity Church, Ericus Bjork and Christina Stalcop, in the Society's newsletter, Swedish Colonial News, edited by Rev. Dr. Kim-Eric Williams.

contact:
Alfred Nicolosi
AlfredNicolosi@ColonialSwedes.org

856-935-4474
856-935-8188 (fax)
609-217-4867 (cell)

Swedish Colonial Society
919 South Swanson Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147-4332

 

Links to related sites:

Royal Court of Sweden
www.royalcourt.se/net/Royal+Court

Embassy of Sweden
www.swedish-embassy.org

Consulate General of Sweden - New York
www.webcom.com/sis

Swedish Colonial Society
www.colonialswedes.org

American Swedish Historical Museum
www.americanswedish.org

Kalmar Nyckel Foundation
www.kalnyc.org

Trinity Episcopal (Old Swedes') Church
http://www.trinityswedesboro.org

Holy Trinity (Old Swedes') Church
www.oldswedes.org

Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church
www.GloriaDei-OldSwedes.org

 

Recent articles:

The News Journal

www.delawareonline.com/newsjournal/local/2003/01/29swedishprincess.html

Gloucester County Times
http://www.nj.com/news/gloucester/index.ssf?/base/news-0/1043580020318890.xml

Hello Magazine
www.hellomagazine.com/profiles/princessvictoria