They will gather behind the newly erected concrete security barriers of a five-star hotel.
No minutes of the 2016 Bilderberg Conference will be taken. Tight security will be provided by the German police, with logistical support from Airbus, one of the world’s biggest arms dealers.
No reporters will be allowed into the Taschenbergpalais Hotel in Dresden to hear what Henry Kissinger says to the Goldman Sachs board member as the prime ministers, financiers, oil executives, and former heads of the CIA and MI6 add their thoughts.
But it’s not a conspiracy of the global superelite. It’s just a three-day “summer school for the influential.”
And that’s the truth, because The Independent has been told it, by none other than one of the Bilderberg Group’s own spokespeople.
Rather incredibly for an organisation that states – or understates – that it has “never sought any public attention”, spokespeople for it actually exist. Although they seem to prefer giving information ‘for background’ rather than for, you know, quoting.
They also seem to spend most of their time denying rumours: Trump is coming to Bilderberg, Bilderberg is going to stop Trump, that sort of thing. One of the favourite “hardy annuals” is the story about a guy looking in a dustbin and finding the real Bilderberg agenda, the one with global domination as item number one.
But it’s not true, because the Bilderberg spokesman told us.
This year’s agenda, he said, will include China, Europe, migration, the Middle East, Russia and the “geo-politics of energy and commodity prices”.
It will NOT, apparently, include global domination, fixing who becomes US president, and planning wars – as has been alleged over the Kosovo conflict. That’s not what Bilderberg is about, the charming spokesman assured us.
“One German political magazine called it ‘a summer school for the influential’,” he said, “Which was an interesting way of looking at it.
“The participants can come here for three or four days and learn about geopolitics, technology, megatrends.
“It’s a place to gain insights and gather information.”
The top 10 most powerful people in the world
The top 10 most powerful people in the world
1/10 10. Larry Page Cofounder and CEO, Google
2/10 9. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India
3/10 8. David Cameron Prime Minister, UK
4/10 7. Janet Yellen Chair, Federal Reserve
5/10 6. Bill Gates Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
6/10 5. Xi Jinping General secretary, Communist Party of China
7/10 4. Pope Francis Pope, Roman Catholic Church
8/10 3. Barack Obama President, US
9/10 2. Angela Merkel Chancellor, Germany
10/10 1. Vladimir Putin President, Russia
And yet those rumours will keep coming.
Especially this year, with a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU looming. And with Bilderberg chairman Count Henri de Castries, he of the castle in Anjou, the top role in global insurance giant AXA, and the final say on who is invited and who is left behind the security barrier, telling the Financial Times in January that Brexit, combined with an unreformed EU would be a “disaster for everyone.”
No wonder Conservative MP and Brexit enthusiast Philip Hollobone, perhaps aware of George Osborne’s presence at Bilderberg 2015, decided to ask questions in the House in March.
“How can it be in any way acceptable for members of Her Majesty’s Government to encourage foreign Heads of State to comment on the EU referendum?” he demanded. “Does this not demonstrate the fact that the international Bilderberg group is ganging up against the British people?”
A close reading of the internet suggests quite a few of ‘the people’ agreed with him.
In fact it almost seems the conspiracy theories started the moment the first Bilderberg meeting was held in 1954, in the Hotel de Bilderberg in the Dutch village of Oosterbeck.
It probably didn’t help that one of the driving forces in these “informal discussions designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America” was Józef Retinger, a Sorbonne-educated Pole who was a leading light in the European Movement that inspired the creation of the EU.
And if Retinger really wanted to stop the conspiracy theorists, he probably shouldn’t have asked Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands to help out with the meetings.
Prince Bernhard may have gone to his grave swearing he had never been a committed Nazi, with his party membership while at a Berlin university in the early 1930s being explained by a desire to evade Nazi tests imposed on students. He may also have subsequently fled to England and flown bombing missions against Nazi Germany. But try telling that to the internet.
And on the very, very rare occasions that Bilderbergers talk to journalists about Bilderberg, their comments can seem a little … too illuminating. (Although for the avoidance of doubt, that’s illuminating not Illuminati.)
When Denis Healey, ex-Labour Chancellor, Bilderberg founder and 30 years a steering committee member, spoke to Jon Ronson, the author of Them: Adventures With Extremists, he said: “To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair.
“Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn't go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing."
In remarks that get fewer Google hits, Healey did also say that Ronson’s suggestion of a conspiracy was "Idiocy! Crap!”
“I've never heard such crap!” he added. “That isn't a conspiracy! That is the world. It is the way things are done. And quite rightly so."
Then again, Healey did also tell Ronson to “fuck off” when he asked to see the photos the Labour grandee had taken of all his Bilderberg trips.
Intriguingly, Healey mentioned that when it came to how the steering committee proposed invitees: “We make a point of getting along younger politicians who are obviously rising, to bring them together with financiers and industrialists who offer them wise words. It increases the chance of having a sensible global policy."
And look what happened to those young hopeful who went to Bilderberg and learned from financiers and industrialists what sensible global policy looks like: Margaret Thatcher allegedly impressed David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger at Bilderberg 1975, and became PM in 1979.
Bill Clinton was but a humble governor of Arkansas when he attended Bilderberg 1991. He was elected US President a year later. And then there’s globe-trottin’, dictator advisin’ Tony Blair: Bilderberg attendee 1993, PM 1997.
Pure coincidence, The Independent was assured. For every hopeful who made it to the top job, you could find two who went nowhere. And when we suggested that the two who went nowhere did so because they failed to please Bilderberg’s financiers and industrialists, the smooth-talking spokesman just laughed.
“Oh, come on!” he said.
Which just left surely the greatest Bilderberg revelation of them all. The bombshell was dropped in 2013. That year the global superelite converged not on Washington, not on Wall Street or Westminster, but on Watford.
Despite what you might have thought, Watford, Hertfordshire, was – judging by the private helicopters and limousines converging on the Grove Hotel spa and golf resort – the epicentre of world domination.
Or maybe not.
“The hotel just had really good facilities,” the spokesman assured us. “There’s no exciting explanation.”
Of course there isn’t. Is there?