The story is wild.
When news broke on the 20th February that Queen Elizabeth had tested positive for Covid-19, after being in contact with the Prince of Wales, understandably it was big news. Royalist or not, the queen is an important public figure and at 95-years-old, its only natural that her health will come under scrutiny.
Although Buckingham Palace famously decline to comment on the health of the ruling monarch, considering it a private matter, the palace did release a statement at the time, saying that the Queen was exhibiting ‘mild cold-like symptoms’. It's since been reported that the Queen had to cancel two virtual engagements due to a 'croaky throat'.
So you can imagine how when Hollywood Unlocked, a US celebrity gossip and pop-culture blog, announced on the 22nd February that the Queen had died, it was met with shock and disbelief. Shock that the world's longest-reigning British monarch had passed, and disbelief that a US celeb blog was breaking the news rather than a British news platform such as the BBC.
Unsurprisingly, the article - which claimed Her Royal Highness was “scheduled to attend the wedding of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, but was found dead” - went viral. A swift backlash followed on Twitter to which Hollywood Unlocked and its CEO Jason Lee have now responded.
In a post entitled 'Fact Check: 10 Reasons We Believed Queen Elizabeth Was Dead', Lee apologises to the Queen and the Royal Family for getting it wrong. You need to scroll to the bottom, past the 10 bullet points of how and why, Hollywood Unlocked, believed the Queen was actually dead, but the apology from Lee and the team is there.
“Although I’ve never been wrong when breaking a story because this involves The Queen this is one time I would want to be,” Lee explained. “And based on Wednesday’s report from the Palace, I can say my sources got this wrong and I sincerely apologize to The Queen and the Royal Family.”
Previously, Lee had defended the publication of the claims that the Queen had died, tweeting "we don't post lies and I always stand by my sources. Waiting for an official statement from the palace."
In the recent post, Hollywood Unlocked write: "All news outlets get it wrong sometimes despite their best efforts and we will always take full accountability when that happens.
But we can’t stress enough that we’d never intentionally cause unnecessary pain or grief to the monarchy (or the public at large) simply for “clickbait” and hope we’ve outlined all the compelling information that led to our original post.
We take pride in the work we do and the relationships we’ve built behind the scenes that enable us to break stories directly to our audience – even at times when powerful media machines are working hard to distort the truth."
At the time of the initial 'exclusive', Metro.co.uk reported that, while they approached the Palace to address the speculation, they'd been told that the palace "would not entertain commenting on such a story.”
Although it's not impossible for such news to be leaked to the press before Buckingham Palace officially announce the news, it’s unlikely, given the protocols they have in place. When the time comes, Operation London Bridge, known as a "call cascade" means a chain of important people, such as Prime Minister, Cabinet Secretary and so on will be notified of the news.
Following that process, Buckingham Palace will release their official statement announcing the news to the Press Association news agency, who will share the notification with global media simultaneously.
Happily, Buckingham Palace just released news saying that the Queen is back to work following her Covid scare.
We're glad you're feeling better, your highness!
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