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Monday 22 August 2005: 09.15 EDT

By Alfred Donovan

My son John recently received his first letter from Royal Dutch Shell Plc. It proudly displays the royal crown of the Dutch royal family. The oil giant bears the Royal prefix because Royal Dutch has enjoyed a strong link with the Dutch royal family for over a hundred years.

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands granted a royal charter to a small oil exploration company founded in 1890 by Jean Kessler, along with Henri Deterding and Hugo Loudon, which evolved into the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company. Queen Wilhelmina was a very shrewd investor and became the wealthiest woman in the world. At one time, the Dutch royals apparently owned as much as 25% of the oil company.

The Dutch royal family (The House of Orange) is still reportedly the biggest shareholder in the Dutch part of the group, although the size of its stake has long been a source of debate. Queen Beatrix, a billionaire in her own right, is the current head of the Dutch royal family.

The recent news that US Federal Court District Chief Judge, John Bissell, has given consent for a multi-billion dollar class action lawsuit to proceed against Royal Dutch Shell, its auditors, and named current and former directors, must therefore be disappointing to the Dutch royal family. Like many other Shell shareholders, they must wonder if the fallout from the reserves debacle will ever come to an end. Until then, the ROYAL DUTCH SHELL name, including the ROYAL prefix, will continue to be tarnished. The Dutch royal family must be embarrassed about being associated with such a scandal ridden multinational.

The strange thing is that I personally warned Queen Beatrix in 1999 concerning my grave reservations about Shell management. I sent warnings to many other major Shell shareholders, the UK government, and the media, which should have set alarm bells ringing far and wide. Unfortunately no one was listening. Last year I sent a letter to Queen Beatrix containing a salient extract from my original 1999 warning letter to her.

21 April 2004


Huis ten Bosch Palace

The Hague

Your Gracious Majesty


I last wrote to you on 1st March 1999. I did so in the knowledge that your esteemed family is one of the largest single shareholders in Shell. I warned you about what I described as “a culture of deception and cover-up deeply ingrained at the highest levels of Shell”.

In this connection, I noticed an article in The Sunday Times on 21 March 2004, which stated: “Shell’s management will be further embarrassed by the revelation that the Dutch royal family has lost nearly £250m through the collapse in the company’s share price”. Unfortunately it seems fair to say in view of current events that my warning has turned out to be devastatingly accurate.

I have for a number of years been a lone voice expressing grave doubts about the integrity of Shell senior management figures, who happen to be the same individuals named in the recent US class action law suits alleging fraud and deceit – charges which, based on current news reports, seem well-founded.

Many people must have thought I was a crazy old man (I am 87 on 22 April). I therefore feel vindicated by the headlines in today’s newspapers about a once much respected brand which many people rightly held in affection e.g.: –

The Independent: “Lies, cover-ups, fat cats and an oil giant in crisis”

The Guardian: “Trail of emails reveals depths of deceit at the heart of Shell”

The Scotsman: “Shell admits reserve ‘lies’”

Daily Telegraph: “Memos expose Shell’s years of lying”

London Evening Standard: “Shell bosses lied to the City”

Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Dutch/Shell Group exec was ‘sick and tired’ of lying”

I founded the Shell Shareholders Organisation because of the problems my family encountered with Shell after enjoying a mutually successful business relationship with them for many years. Unfortunately we later found it necessary to sue Shell in the High Court for stealing business ideas from us. Shell settled the first three claims for a total of £260,000 plus costs. When we sued again, Shell hired undercover agents as part of a plan to go on the offensive against us.

My family, our key witnesses and even our lawyer were besieged and intimidated by undercover operatives. Burglaries were carried out at the residences of these individuals and key documents privileged and otherwise were examined. Thus the integrity of our documents was compromised. Threats were also made. A former Shell Manager became too frightened to give evidence on our behalf.

Shell and its London Solicitors, DJ Freeman, admitted in writing the activities of one undercover agent who was caught in the act of illegally checking our mail. They advised my son in writing that other agents were investigating us, but denied that any of them had committed burglaries or made threats against us.

We wrote to senior Shell managers – including some of the same individuals now named in US class action law suits against Shell (one for $15 billion dollars according to BBC Radio). They all ignored my protestations about the clandestine activity.

They also ignored evidence of improper conduct by Shell managers conducting a tendering process for a major contract. Companies who thought they were participating in an honest process were deliberately deceived and cheated. 35 companies tendered for the contract yet it was awarded to a firm which did not participate; a company with whom the Shell manager running the tendering process had a personal relationship. Shell senior management also ignored evidence of an email circulated by the same manager to senior colleagues (in relation to the same project) which contained the following illuminating comment: “My note of 25/10 expressed a personal and pragmatic view of how to handle the problem – it is in fact illegal and is certainly unofficial, and if we were discovered then we will enforce the official position…”

I only recently discovered to my consternation that some of the same titled Shell directors to whom I wrote bringing these matters to their attention, including a former Shell Group Chairman were simultaneously the spymasters/shareholders of a shadowy spying organization called Hakluyt, closely linked with the British Secret Service. Hakluyt is staffed by former MI6 officers. Shell has admitted using Hakluyt agents including a serving German Secret Service agent to engage in undercover missions against worthy organisations campaigning against Shell e.g. Greenpeace and Body Shop. This “cloak and dagger” activity was exposed by The Sunday Times in a front page story.

When the Police investigated at Shell UK’s London HQ the threats, burglaries and espionage activity in our case, Shell did not disclose its ties with Hakluyt, an organisation well versed in the same tactics which had been directed against us.

In addition to the covert operations against us and various worthy NGO’s including Greenpeace and Body Shop, Shell simultaneously set up and paid for a private army of 1400 Police spies supporting the then murderous regime in Nigeria ( Mail on Sunday article 4 April 04 “Shell Chief had a private army”). The “Shell Chief” in question was Sir Philip Watts.

Under the circumstances the cover-up, deception and intrigue at Shell regarding the shortfall in oil and gas reserves holds no great surprises to me. I have felt like my family was up against the mafia, not the great company I once admired.

Please visit to read my sworn Affidavit concerning these matters. You will also find the world’s most comprehensive news portal website covering the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. I am sending a similar letter to the major Pension Funds/investors in Shell. I believe they will be appalled by what I have to say.

Yours sincerely

Alfred Donovan


It is regrettable in view of the dramatic revelations and developments since January 2004 that no one, including Queen Beatrix, heeded my warnings about Shell management, which is still blundering merrily along, even treating themselves to a fleet of executive jet planes. They apparently want to act like royalty despite still being faced with legal proceedings and investigations for conning Shell shareholders, including the Dutch royal family.


This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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