Conspiracy theorists will likely be buzzing this weekend as the Bilderberg Group holds its 61st annual meeting, beginning Friday, at Watford's Grove Hotel in the U.K. The secret club is among the most popular topics for conspiracy theorists, with many believing its annual meetings of powerful people shape, or even control, the world.
As a "shadowy" organization, the Bilderberg Group (named for the Netherlands hotel where the first meeting was held) has powerful members, that much is true. But little else is readily known about the group aside from reports about the location of its annual meetings. According to the Associated Press, attendees at this year's meeting will include Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Past Bilderberg participants have included British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford, and other powerful dignitaries, lawyers, public figures and bankers from around the world.
The first meeting of the Bilderberg Group, or Bilderberg Club, was held May 29-31, 1954, at the Hotel de Bilderberg in the Netherlands. The group's internal structure is organized by the Steering Committee. The current head of the committee is AXA Group CEO and Chairman Henri de Castries.
According to their official website, the goal of the Bilderberg Group is "to foster dialogue between Europe and North America. Every year, 120 to 150 political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media are invited to take part in the conference. About two-thirds of the participants come from Europe and the rest from North America; one-third from politics and government and the rest from other fields." Because of the powerful members attached to the Bilderberg Group, the club has been the source of numerous conspiracy theories, similar to those floated about the Illuminati or the Freemasons.
The members discuss "megatrends" that affect the entire world, with possible topics this year including foreign affairs, technological advancements, economic theories. From a 1963 agenda obtained by Wikileaks, the main discussions of that year's Bilderberg meeting covered "the balance of power in light of recent international developments," "trade relations between the U.S.A. and Europe in light of the negotiations for Britain's entry into the Common Market" and "trade relations between the Western world and the developing countries."
As AP notes, there is no press allowed at the meetings, no official notes or agenda, and there's plenty of security to prevent the public from getting too close. Protesters fearing a one world government plan on staging demonstrations outside the hotel.