In Depth

Bilderberg conference: Who is going and what will they discuss?

Conspiracy theorists say group aims to form a New World Order and could be composed of 'shape-shifting lizards'

Members of the global elite are gathering in Dresden today for the annual Bilderberg conference.

The clandestine meeting – closed to reporters, guarded by undercover agents and bound by strict secrecy rules – has long been a favourite of conspiracy theorists

What is the Bilderberg Group? 

Founded 60 years ago by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, it brings together senior politicians, economists, security experts and business people from Europe and North America.

The group says the annual conference is meant to foster dialogue on major issues facing the world.

Who will be there?                                 

The guest list includes former CIA director David Petraeus and ex-MI6 chief Sir John Sawers, as well as the bosses of Google, Shell, BP and Deutsche Bank.

A select few journalists, including The Economist's editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes, have also been invited - but will be sworn to secrecy.

Notably absent will be Chancellor George Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron, who have both attended in recent years.

What will they discuss?

The possibility of Britain leaving the European Union is expected to top the agenda, alongside the struggling Chinese economy, low oil prices and the risk of Donald Trump reaching the White House.

For Bilderberg, "the idea that there might be any kind of push-back against globalisation is a horrific one", Charlie Skelton writes for the International Business Times.

"I suspect we'll glimpse some frowning faces behind the tinted glass as the limousines start rolling up," the journalist adds.

Why are conspiracy theorists so interested

The meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule, a convention that allows speakers to advance unpopular opinions without fear of being identified.

"There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken and no policy statements are issued," the group says.

Conspiracy theorists have long believed the Bilderberg Group is actually a puppet master controlling global governments and shaping world politics and have long accused it of trying to form a New World Order.

Bilderberg is said variously to have launched the career of Margaret Thatcher, to control fleets of black helicopters and even to be secretly composed of giant shape-shifting lizards, bent on ruling the world.

"To say we are striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair," admitted founding member Denis Healey in 2014. "We felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing."

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