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Everything we know about the billionaire children who died in the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks.

Denmark’s richest man, Anders Holch Povlsen, did what he could to keep his children safe from kidnappers. But he couldn’t stop terrorists from taking the lives of three of them.

The fashion billionaire had four children with Anne Storm Pedersen: Agnes, Alma, Astrid and Alfred. Pedersen told The Times last year that she and her husband tried to be “humble and like everyone else”, despite their wealth.

“I’m trying to keep my feet on the ground,” she said. “Our children go to a normal public school. I am very keen on teaching them that it’s not about money, it’s about who you are.”

At the same time, there’s no doubt that the family enjoyed the privileges of wealth. They were friends with the Danish royal family. They were able to travel to some of the world’s most gorgeous destinations. Alma’s Instagram account shows photos of the Maldives, Florida and St Barts, all over the past few months.

“Caribbean you are too good!!!” she wrote in January.

It was while the family were holidaying in Sri Lanka that three of the children were killed in the horrific attacks on Easter Sunday.

Povlsen’s wealth comes from Bestseller, the fashion business his parents Troels and Merete started as one clothes shop in a small town in Denmark in 1975. He is now worth an estimated $US7.9 billion, and is the largest shareholder in online retailer ASOS.

But Povlsen kept a low profile, quite possibly because of the trauma of previous kidnap attempts. He rarely did interviews. His children were barely mentioned or shown in the media.

In 1998, around the time that Povlsen’s parents were handing control of Bestseller over to him, the family was terrorised by an extortionist called Kurt Hansen. Hansen sent the family a series of threatening letters, scratched his initials on their cars and even broke into their home, leaving a note just a few metres away from where they were sleeping. When he was arrested, he was carrying handcuffs and ankle cuffs. It was discovered that he had built a hidden room under the floorboards of his house.

In 2003, a family friend was kidnapped in India.

“The gang thought he was my son,” Povlsen’s father Troels said at the time. “There’s no doubt that was why they picked him up, to blackmail me and get money out of  Bestseller.” 

Povlsen met Pedersen when she was working in sales for Bestseller. Pedersen says she grew up in a “very ordinary” family, with a passion for fashion and badminton.

“I wasn’t born into wealth,” she told The Times. “Neither of us were.”

She describes her husband as having a “conservation vision”. In 2006, he bought a 42,000 acre estate in Scotland, and then, gradually, a further 10 estates, making him Scotland’s biggest landholder.

Pedersen reveals that one of her daughters was not impressed with the historic Killiehuntly farmhouse when they arrived there.

“Mummy, why are we in this horrible dark old house?” she remembers her saying.

While Pedersen has been working on renovating the interiors of their Scottish properties, Povlsen has been working on “rewilding” the land.

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Thomas MacDonell, Povlsen’s director of conservation, says his boss’s love of Scotland was inspired by family holidays. He describes him as “very normal”.

“If you saw him in the street, you would not think he is a tremendously wealthy guy,” MacDonell told The Herald. “He is pretty anonymous.”

In a recent statement about their Scottish land, Povlsen and Pedersen spoke of their hope that their children would be involved in their “labour of love” to return their parts of the Highlands to their “former magnificent natural state”.

“It is a project that we know cannot be realised in our lifetime, which will bear fruit not just for our own children but also for the generation of visitors, who, like us, hold a deep affection [for] the Scottish Highlands,” they wrote.

Sadly, three of those children won’t have a chance to see their parents’ vision take shape in Scotland. The last photo on Alma’s Instagram account, taken five days ago, shows her two sisters and brother on holiday in Sri Lanka, looking out over a pool, with palm trees in the background.

 

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A post shared by ALMA STORM HOLCH POVLSEN (@almashpovlsen) on

The three Povlsen children were among at least 290 people killed in the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. It has not yet been revealed which three of the four died.

“I can confirm that three children have been killed,” said Jesper Stubkier, the communications manager for Bestseller. We have no further comment and we ask that the family’s privacy is respected at this time.”

Alma’s last Instagram post has been flooded with messages of sympathy.

“We are so so so sorry for what happened to your family,” one person wrote.

“No words will ever be enough. Please forgive us, for we could not protect you in our country.”

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