Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Denmark: Aristocrats fear for their good names

Denmark's aristocrats may be few and stripped of their noble privileges, but they are proud of their names. Now, a proposed liberalisation of the country's name law has them up in arms that anyone will be able to begin using their inherited names. 'The nobility has no privileges. They disappeared with the constitution of 1849,' said chairman for the Danish Nobility Association Henrik Wedell-Wedellsborg. 'The family name is all that's left and many of our members are of course very attached to their names.' According to the terms of the liberalisation, if 1000 people in Denmark carry a particular surname, then the name is open for use by anyone. The Nobility Association's 185 families fear their family heritages would be watered down if people could use their surnames freely. 'Being noble means that there is a historic continuity,' said Wedell-Wedellsborg. 'It gives a feeling of pride that someone in the family has done something great.' Among the changes included in the liberalisation of name laws is the right to keep a married name after divorce. That would mean children of a remarried ex-noble spouse could inherit the noble name, even though they bear no relation. In the long term, they fear name liberalisation could sound the death knell for Danish nobility. The proposal to liberalise name regulations is currently under debate in the parliament and is expected to pass by a wide margin.


At May 26, 2005 5:14 PM, Anonymous shakuhachi said...

I dont think this really matters. There have always been pretenders and noble frauds. All this means is that there will be a higher burden of proof, and real nobility will have no problem proving it.


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