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Re: Birgitte Duchess of Gloucester
Since it became possible in 1904 lots of people dropped their patronymic-surnames and reverted to old familiy names that dissapeared because of different laws regulating surnames (quite complex to explain). My father's uncle worked for the state railways were asked to change his common sen-surmake to an "invented" name to "stand out" and another uncle's children got their mother's surname from birth (around 1920)
I have 3 male cousins who took their wife's surnames and most of the other's children have their mother's non-sen-surname.
So changing the surname is really common in Denmark.
She changed her name from Henriksen to van Deurs in january 1966, so she was 19.
The van Deurs family is an old upperclass family while the duchess' Henriksen family originally were poor farm workers. So yes, van Deurs is "posher" than Henriksen.
Traditionally most Danes have had a patronymic surname like Henriksen. But through the years a lot of those people have chosen other, rarer surnames, "to stand out from the crowd". For example their mother's or grandmother's surname.
So the duchess' name change is not necessarily a sign of distancing from her father.