Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, husband of Queen Juliana, spearheaded the movement to establish the Bilderberg Meetings, which he chaired from 1954 until a corruption scandal forced his resignation in 1976. The intention was to promote continuing cohesion and understanding within the then newly founded Western alliance. As a rule, between 90 and 130 prominent Americans and Europeans—typically such well-known figures as U.S. Secretaries of State Dean Acheson, Dean Rusk, and Henry Kissinger; Undersecretary of State George W. Ball; the millionaire brothers Nelson and David Rockefeller; British politicians Denis Healey and Reginald Maudling; Italian tycoon Gianni Agnelli; and future U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, together with selected media figures and academics—normally attended each three-day meeting. From the 1960s through the 1980s, Ball and Healey were particularly active figures in the Bilderberg Meetings.
For each gathering, several confidential discussion papers were normally prepared that focused on some highly topical issue, often questions related to Western defense, strategic, and economic matters. All discussions were off the record. Paradoxically, the pervasive insistence on secrecy and confidentiality made the Bilderberg Meetings a perennial target of conspiratorial accusations that their participants effectively constituted a covert world government, running international affairs on undemocratic principles in the interests of global capitalism.
Following Prince Bernhard's 1976 resignation, the Bilderberg Meetings were for some years rather eclipsed by the formation a few years earlier of the Trilateral Commission, which brought together similar individuals from Western Europe, the United States, and Japan. With the ending of the Cold War, some Russian and East European representatives generally attended each conference. Fifty years after their inception, the Bilderberg Meetings still attracted elite participants from the international great and good, and their proceedings remained highly secure and confidential.
Estulin, Daniel. La Verdadera Historia del Club Bilderberg [The True History of the Bilderberg Club]. Madrid, Spain: Planeta, 2005.; Ross, Robert Gaylon, Sr. Who's Who of the Elite: Members of the Bilderbergs, Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, and Skull & Bones Society. Rev. ed. San Marcos, TX: RIE, 2000.; Tucker, Jim. Jim Tucker's Bilderberg Diary: One Reporter's 25-Year Battle to Shine the Light on the World Shadow Government. Washington, DC: American Free Press, 2005.