October 5-6, 2016.
The purpose of the meeting was to support the future of RCS networks, share experiences and knowledge and to facilitate interaction and relationship-building between branches, youth groups and the RCS in London.
Although not all the Commonwealth Countries were present, probably only about half, the conference was a great success. Attended by 80 delegates, representing over 30 branches from 20 Commonwealth countries with the largest contingents were from Canada and Australia. Australia was well represented: 16 delegates were attending from ACT, QLD, NSW, SA, VIC and WA.
The meetings were hosted by The High Commission for New Zealand, The High Commission for Canada and The High Commission for Nigeria.
Functions were hosted by The High Commission for Malta, The High Commission for Australia, Buckingham Palace and The House of Lords. Her Majesty was scheduled to meet with us at the reception held at Buckingham Palace but was held up in transit from Balmoral and not arriving in time to be ready for the reception.
Most of the queries we had prior to the meeting were either answered at the meeting or able to be deduced from the information disseminated at the meeting. It seems the issues surrounding the discontinuation and resulting debt of the RCS Club were central to the Trustees making a series of decisions to take advantage of the offer to purchase the part of the RCS Club that was owned and the sale of the lease for the remaining part.
This clearing of the debt was seen as critical to the survival of the RCS, which as I will explain later was preferred by the British Government and Buckingham Palace. In that regard, everything that was done in terms of the changes to the Charter and Rules was overseen by the lawyers appointed by Privy Council (PC). It was mentioned to me in private by Director Lake that Privy Council saw parallels for the required reinvention and restructure of The RCS in 2013 as being similar to those adopted by Queen Victoria in 1868, which did not require majority vote from members. PC resolved that the members who were present at the meeting where the changes to the RCS, Charter and Rules were endorsed, as satisfying the legal requirements.
At the start, Director Lake was trying to convince the meeting the summary, as I referred to it, was prepared by Terry and his Council members, inferring we were somehow not qualified to comment or ask questions. He changed his approach when he realised the summary was prepared by a lawyer residing in the UK, no names or other details were given. Over the next couple of days, Director Lake and I spoke in private a number of times and I can say by the end of the International Meeting, we formed an acceptable mutual understanding of what has happened, and the fact the
Branches could have been taken into confidence a little more.