By Dr George Venturini
This was the time, from 1933 until late in 1939, when Britain sat staring like a mesmerised rabbit at Germany’s order, discipline, productivity and apparent prosperity – in preparation for war. Any suggestions for action on Britain’s part were discouraged on the ground that it might irritate the German ‘cousins’ and their Nazi monster and thus produce the very calamity that Britain desired to avert, as Alfred Duff Cooper, friend of Edward VIII, cabinet minister and diplomat, would put it. From Australia, lawyers like Robert Gordon Menzies would go further, way beyond a leguleian-shysterish distinction between ‘internal affairs’ – the persecution of the Jews and even Kristallnacht – and ‘diplomatic concerns’, whatever that means. Menzies actually went further: returning from a long visit to Germany, in October 1938 he told friends and admirers that “There is a good deal of really spiritual quality in the willingness of young Germans to devote themselves to the service and well-being of the State”, and that enthusiasm for service to the State evident in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany “could well be emulated in Australia.”
Duff Cooper wrote that he was gently chided at a dinner once by Edward VIII for being mildly critical of Germany: “He hoped, as so many people did at the time, that we should be able to come to terms with the new regime in Germany, and he regretted my attitude towards it.”
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who had set out to marry the handsome Edward, Prince of Wales, ended up with the thickest of his backward brother, Albert, Duke of York. She would maintain the kind of ‘spiritual quality’ to which Menzies referred. Hence Elizabeth was being prepared to join, in the spirit of the time of collaboration with Nazi Germany, the future Englisch Jugend.
Months after the Prince of Wales became king Edward VIII he abdicated and the throne went to Albert, who changed his name to become King George VI. Bowes-Lyon insisted on being known as the ‘Queen Mother’.
‘The backward king’ George VI, 1936-1952, inherited about half their father’s fortune. He also inherited the advice of Sir Edward Peacock, who continued to advise the monarchy well into Elizabeth II’s reign.
Queen Elizabeth II is believed to have inherited the bulk of George VI’s fortune, some £50 million, to invest and reinvest tax free from 1952, when she became Queen. Conservative estimates are that her portfolio grew to £3 billion (as at 1995).
Apart from the ‘`hot-money-laundering’ ING, the Queen relied for a time upon Morgan Grenfell, which in 1990 was taken over by Deutsche Bank, transforming that German bank into part of the British financial network in the process. Morgan Grenfell senior executive Sir Wilfred William Hill Hill-Wood, financial adviser to King George VI, continued his services to the Queen, who conferred upon him a knighthood of the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.
Coming to Queen Elizabeth now, there are only indicia of her enormous wealth, and they are surrounded by myth and fantasy.
It is said, for instance, that she acts as the holder a fondo, the property system once set up by the Venetian Black nobility. On that assumption one could go far, far away. (See: ‘The Venetian Oligarchy: Its Methods, Agendas, Tactics, …,’ and ‘How the Venetian System Was Transplanted Into England).
To operate with extreme ‘discretion’ the Queen is able to divide her total wealth into two parts. One is protected by the already mentioned Venetian-style fondo – essentially a trust, which makes royal patrimony as inalienable and must be passed on to her heir, free from inheritance tax. The second part of the Queen’s wealth consists of her private collection of castles, jewellery, and art items, and a portfolio of blue chip stocks and bonds and real estate investments around the world.
One of the secrets to her disposable wealth is that she amassed it tax free until 1992, the year when she entered in the already mentioned ‘memorandum of understanding’ to pay taxes on income, capital gains, and inheritance on such portfolio. She could, of course, break the agreement at any time she desires, and without any consequence of sort.
The Queen has an enormous advantage over any other stock market operator: she is the world’s ultimate ‘insider trader.’ Not only does she receive tips from British financiers, but she also has access to all the state secrets, through the ‘boxes’ she receives daily. Thus, if the Queen learns from among all public and private intelligence and economic warfare entities reporting to her, for example, that a country is about to be destabilised – Libya, for instance, or Iraq, she can immediately call her broker. Under the secrecy laws which protect the monarchy, it would be unthinkable for anyone to consider pressing charges of insider trading and conflict of interest against the sovereign. That would be the ultimate lèse-majesté!
But among the many ‘stories’ and fables, some elements of truth are unquestionable.
The Queen owns mines and mineral rights all over the globe. In the 1950s the uranium mining company Rio Tinto Mines – now known as Rio Into Energy and Rio Tinto Diamonds, and both parts of the Rio Tinto Group – was formed by the Queen’s ‘African adviser’ Roland Walter Rowland (formerly R. W. Fuhrhop, but better known as ‘Tiny’ Rowland). In the words of British Prime Minister Edward Heath he was labelled in 1972 “the unacceptable face of capitalism”, due to his flamboyant, aggressive and unscrupulous business practices. He was for 33 years at the helm of London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Company – Lonrho, an international conglomerate, which was taken over by FSAfrica, a corporation controlled by two Swiss billionaires. R.W. Furhop was a German, and in the words of a fellow German “an ardent supporter of Hitler and an arrogant, nasty piece of work to boot.” Furhop lost his position in 1995 and died in 1998.
His sympathy for the Nazis did not disqualify him from advising the Queen – discretely, of course.
Through Furhop -‘Tiny’ Towland, Africa became the primary source of the Queen’s investments in uranium extraction – mainly but not exclusively from Rössing Uranium Mine in Namibia.
In 1971 Senator Thomas J. McIntyre (D-N.H.) and Representative Silvio O. Conte R-Mass) confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II held a major share in Courtaulds Textiles. Courtaulds was Britain’s largest producer of lingerie and underwear. The organisation employs around 20,000 people across 16 countries in Europe, North America and Asia, and has annual turnover exceeding £1 billion ( as at July 2018).
While the name Courtaulds disappeared in the chemical merger with Akzo Nobel, the Courtaulds textile name remains as a division in Sara Lee. In May 2006 Sara Lee announced the sale of Courtaulds Textiles to PD Enterprise Limited, a major supplier of clothing to Courtaulds Textiles.
PD Enterprise Ltd., a private company based in Hong Kong, operates nine facilities which produce more than 120 million garments annually. Its products include bras, underwear, nightwear, swim and beachwear, formal-wear and casual wear, jackets and coats, baby wear and socks.
Courtaulds had come to the attention of the two American Congressmen when the Queen used the company as her nominee to hide her ownership of the largest plantation in Mississippi, on the bank of the homonymous River and near the border with the State of Arkansas. It was known as the Delta and Pine Land Company, or ‘the Queen’s Farm,’ and it consisted of 38,000 acres with rich soil, a factory, and a mill. At the time, it was worth US$44.5 million. It employed hundreds of African-American labourers at minimal wages. Since 1968 it had been subsidised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the tune of $1.5 million.
The Queen was also known ‘on the market’ for employing Cortaulds as nominee for the purchase of American stocks.
In 1968 the two Congressmen had described in the Congressional Record, which is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress, how the Queen obtained one of the world’s largest plantations from Courtaulds, complete with sharecroppers, in Scott, Mississippi.
What really unfavourably impressed the two Congressmen is that the person they thought was the wealthiest woman in the world, and a foreigner to boot, was receiving agricultural subsidies to run a plantation in the United States.
On 16 April 1970 Senator McIntyre, while introducing a bill relating to limitations on farm payments, said: “We paid the Queen $120,000 for not planting cotton on the farmland she owns in Mississippi.” Following the publicity, the Queen seems to have sold the plantation back to Courtaulds, but some believe Courtaulds merely exerted nominee ownership.
Then there is the matter of the apparent lease of Trident submarines from the United States. Briefly, the British government initially negotiated with the Carter administration for the purchase of the Trident I C-4 missile. In 1981 the Reagan administration announced its decision to upgrade its Trident to the new Trident II D-5 missile. This necessitated another round of negotiations and concessions. The United Kingdom Trident programme was announced in July 1980 and patrols began in December 1994. Trident replaced the submarine-based Polaris system, in operation from 1968 until 1996. Since the tactical WE.177 free-fall bombs were decommissioned in 1998, Trident has been the only nuclear weapon system which is operated by the United Kingdom.
Elizabeth Battenberg, it seems, has billion invested in the uranium industry – from the extraction to the application by companies such as Areva NC – formerly C.O.G.E.M.A., Bechtel, Halliburton, Westinghouse and the like. Huge sums, billions, are thought to be held by the Queen in Swiss trusts. She is said to have huge investments in the companies which build and arm the submarines, such as Lockeed Martin, B.A.E. Systems plc, a British multinational defence, security, and aerospace company with headquarters in London and operations worldwide. (BAE Systems selected as preferred tenderer to deliver Australia’s SEA 5000 Future Frigates).
It was left to Labour Prime Minister Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC, to announce that the British taxpayer would pay billions every year to rent American nuclear submarine missile systems made by companies in which the Queen and the Royal Family have large stock of shares.
But this is small change, if one considers the personal investment by the Queen in the nuclear industry.
In a paper which demanded six months of intense preparation and visits to different places and which was left, unfortunately in single copy, for typing, because of last minutes revision and corrections, with the organisers of the Socialist Scholars Conference ‘Ecology, socialism and human survival’ held at University High in Melbourne on 18 to 21 July 1991, there were graphs and figures in abundance. The conclusion was that through several and related ways the Queen held in 1991 between 22 and 23, 5 per cent of shares in the world’s uranium industry. By the way, the ‘socialist’ organisers did not seem very much interested!
There are glimpses of that view in another paper, also submitted to same Conference and by the title ‘Some gems of Australia Inc.’ One diagramme from that paper – even if dated – could help, perhaps.
The “Australian” institutional and private investors are mainly representative of the Queen’s interest in the industry through the ‘discrete’ participation in Rio Tinto Zinc, and in Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia – as it then was. (V. G. Venturini, ‘Some gems of Australia Inc.,’ (paper) to Ecology, socialism and survival, Socialist Scholars Conference, 18-21 July 1991, University High, Melbourne).
The above mentioned figure concerned the mines of Namibia and Australia.
Namibia has an interesting and significant history: in 1884 the German Empire had established rule over most of the territory as a protectorate (in German: Schutzgebiet). It was treated as a German colony until 1915, when South African forces defeated its military. In 1920, after the end of the fist world war the League of Nations mandated the country to the United Kingdom, under administration by South Africa. It imposed its laws, including racial classifications and rules. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990, although two areas, Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands remained under South African control until 1994. (V.G. Venturini, ‘The political economy of grand larceny’, Namibia and the international trade in uranium, 44 Chain reaction, Summer 1985-1986, at 24-29, see also: V.G. Venturini, ‘Namibia and the international trade in uranium’, the inaugural paper presented at the Canberra Conference on Namibia, organised by the Campaign Against Racial Exploitation (CARE) for the United Nations Council for Namibia, 30 August-1 September 1985, Canberra); V. G. Venturini, ‘The diamond industry in Namibia and Ausralia,’ A Report for the United Nations Commissioner for Namibia (New York, 1988); and V. G. Venturini, ‘Argyle, Oranjemund and the diamond industry,’ (paper), for Namibia: independence and beyond, conference for the Asia and Pacific Region, 6 and 7 May 1989, Abbotsford, Melbourne).
The shameful complicity of Australia in what became known as the ‘Uranium cartel case’ – involving principally, but not exclusively Westinghouse (there were in fact Canadian, French, English and South African corporations deeply compromised) passed almost unobserved by the servility of the Australian government in whose premises the cartel had been conceived and organised (V.G. Venturini, Partners in ecocide: Australia’s complicity in the uranium cartel, with a foreword by C. Manning H. Clark, Rigmarole Book Publishers, Clifton Hill, 3068, Australia, 1982).
As it turned out, the Queen has a huge stock of shares in what is today the Rio Tinto Group, which is an Anglo-Australian multinational and one of the world’s largest metals and mining corporations. The company was founded in 1873 and in time it has grown through a long series of mergers and acquisitions to place itself among the world leaders in the production of many commodities, including aluminium, coal, copper, diamonds and uranium.
The corporation has operations on six continents, but is mainly concentrated in Australia and Canada, and owns its mining operations through a complex web of wholly and partly owned subsidiaries. Rio Tinto has joint head offices in London – as plc, and Melbourne – as Limited.
Rio Tinto Group is a dual-listed company traded on both the London Stock Exchange, where it is a component of the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, and the Australian Securities Exchange, where it is a component of the Standard and Poor/Australian Securities Exchange 200 index.
No less than 28 other corporations, from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United States were conspiring with Rio Tinto Zinc Corp.
The Queen has an enormous advantage over any other stock market operator: she is the world’s ultimate ‘insider trader.’ Philip Beresford, author of The Book of the British Rich (St. Martin’s Press, London, 1990) written in conjunction with the Sunday Times of London, has said that the Queen tends to invest in ‘blue chip’ stocks, including Rio Tinto Zinc, General Electric Company of Great Britain, Imperial Chemical Industries, Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum. Among the firms through which she has been investing are the former Barings Bank, the subsidiary Rowe & Pitman of the former S.G. Warburg – which is now a division of Swiss Bank Corporation, and what was the investment bank Cazanove, which became a wholly-owned part of J.P. Morgan in 2010. The Queen’s holding in Rio Tinto Zinc (R.T.Z.) was first discovered through a leak from a source at the Bank of England to Andrew Morton, who wrote the authorised biography of Diana, Princess of Wales.
According to Charles Higham, co-author with Roy Mozeley of Elizabeth and Philip (Doubleday, London 1991), the Queen is a major stockholder in R.T.Z., which, with her old friends at Anglo-American, then controlled 12 per cent of the world’s precious, strategic, and base metals and minerals. Forbes magazine also reported that she was a major R.T.Z. shareholder, as was the Bank of England. Higham quoted Sir Mark Turner, then chairman of R.T.Z.: “You’re running into problems of what the government is going to say about the Queen’s involvement. R.T.Z. is one of the great assets of the country.”
R.T.Z. was in on developing North Sea oil from the beginning. Writes Higham: “The Queen undoubtedly approved the heavy investment, which would enrich her in the immediate future.” Starting in June 1975, R.T.Z. and Texaco were spearheading shipments from the North Sea Argyll Field, to the refineries of British Petroleum, in which firm Queen Elizabeth is also believed to hold an interest.
Continued Wednesday – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 17)
Previous instalment – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 15)
Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents.
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