Members Dinner

Members’ Dinner, with guest speaker the Hon. Peter Wilson CMG
at the Reform Club, Pall Mall, on Friday 16 November, at 7 for 7.45pm

From the announcement in the Summer Newsletter:

This increasingly popular dinner will continue this year in the beautiful surroundings of the Library in the Reform Club, Pall Mall. This year our guest speaker will be the Hon Peter Wilson CMG, HM Ambassador to the Netherlands since September 2017.

The Hon Peter Wilson entered the FCO in 1992 and served in Beijing, in the Cabinet of Sir Leon Brittan, Vice-President of the EU, at UKREP Brussels, Islamabad, Beijing again, as Director Asia Pacific in the FCO and as Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN-New York, before his appointment at The Hague.

The title of his presentation will be: “The Netherlands and the United Kingdom: the bilateral relationship and our common interests”.

As numbers have increased every year since its inception, leading to a full house, we suggest you indicate your interest as soon as possible by sending the application form to our usual address at the Netherlands Embassy, or by e-mail to: dinner2018 ‘at’ Cost will be £77.50 per person, all-in; Members only.


From the report in the Winter Newsletter:

Members’ Dinner with Guest Speaker the Hon. Peter Wilson CMG

Report, by Christiaan Weiland, on the Society’s Annual Dinner, Friday evening 16 November

One of the highlights on the calendar of the Anglo-Netherlands Society (ANS) is the Annual Members’ Dinner. This year it took place on November 16 in one of London’s finest examples of Victorian architecture, the Reform Club on Pall Mall. The evening began with a reception in the Strangers room of the Club, perhaps somewhat inappro­priately named for our gathering, as many of our members, including those who have recently joined the Society, were rapidly involved in lively discussions, resulting in a convivial atmosphere. This was further enhanced by the regular arrival of plates filled with “bitterballen”, perfectly cooked by the Club.

We were subse­quently invited to go up to the beautiful Library of the Club where the eighty members and guests of honour were formally welcomed by ANS Chairman Dick van den Broek. Simon Smits, the Netherlands Ambassador to the Court of St James’s, attended with his wife Astrid.

Following a delight­ful dinner of guinea fowl, tarte tatin – the French interpretation of the Dutch ‘appeltaart’ – and coffee accom­panied by Dutch-themed chocolates, our Chairman introduced the keynote speaker, the Honourable Peter Wilson CMG, British Ambassador to the Netherlands since September 2017. After studying at Oxford University and Harvard University, Peter Wilson entered the FCO and after an assignment at Beijing joined the Cabinet of the European Commission’s Vice President Sir Leon Brittan, followed by diplomatic postings at the UK’s Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels, at Islamabad and again Beijing, as Director Asia Pacific at the FCO, then Deputy at the UK Permanent Mission to the United Nations at New York.

In his address entitled “The Netherlands and the United Kingdom: the bilateral relationship and our common interests” , Ambassador Wilson focused on Brexit, trade, and the transatlantic relationship. The expectation was that after the UK’s leaving the EU, the bonds between Britain and the Netherlands would remain strong, because of their shared history, values, and concerns.

Historically, both nations are free traders and it is in their common interest for example to expand trade with the US and China. In a renewed European constellation, the Netherlands might play a leading role. The Netherlands and Britain have traditionally held strong transatlantic economic and poli­tical ties. Both countries are close allies in interna­tional organisations such as the UN, while each country sent three Secretary-Generals to NATO.

Ambassador Wilson’s other role in the Netherlands, as Britain’s Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), was highlighted following the first chemical attack on British soil and Russia’s subsequent cyber-attack on the OPCW offices at The Hague, foiled by the Dutch security ser­vi­ces, with support from the UK. Earlier, both countries suffered the loss of lives following the downing of flight MH17 and they cooperated closely in the ensuing investigation.

The recent State Visit of Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima underlined and marked just how strong, close, and warm the relationship is between the Netherlands and Britain. In establishing a new relationship between the two countries post-Brexit, organisations such as the ANS could also play an important role. A lively Q&A session followed, all under the Chatham House Rule, covering a wide range of subjects which Ambassador Wilson responded to in a very open way.

ANS President Sir Michael Perry thanked Ambassador Wilson for his reassuring and encouraging words. He underlined that in these challenging political times, it is positive that the Netherlands and the UK have such excellent civil servants, including Ambassador Wilson and the Ambassador of the Netherlands.

As a token of the Society’s appreciation, Chairman Dick van den Broek presented Ambassador Wilson with a book on how the Dutch came to the help of the Duke of Wellington in the Battle of Waterloo. Meanwhile, Society members could again look forward to a year full of events, leading up to our Centenary celebrations towards the end of 2019, beginning of 2020, for which the planning is in full swing.