It is the golden ticket that every self-respecting head of state, CEO, central bank chief and military commander most wants: an invite to the Bilderberg meeting.

Founded in 1954 by Prince Berhnard – father of the former queen of the Netherlands, Princess Beatrix – Bilderberg is an annual conference which the organisers say is designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America, with between 120-150 political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media attending.

There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued. It is instead a forum for discussion, at which ideas can be freely exchanged – as long as you promise not to disclose the details.

As a result, it has become legendary for its secrecy and fodder for conspiracy theorists: a place where masters of the universe can plot their trajectories in utmost confidence. Gerald Ford, the former US president, said in 1965 that “you don’t really belong to the organisation, one gets an invitation from the Prince.”

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