Queen Elizabeth is not dead, but a fake report about her demise — coupled with a lack of updates on her real-life health crisis — allowed a death hoax to go viral this week.
The royal family matriarch has been laid up with what has been described as a “heavy cold” for close to a week, forcing her to forgo her annual Christmas trip north of London and sparking rumors that she could be in failing health.
Those rumors were compounded by a hoax report on Thursday that Queen Elizabeth is dead. As the Mirror noted, the report came from a fake BBC account that reported the grim news then followed it up with a strange joke.
@BBCNewsUKI tweeted: “BREAKING: Buckingham Palace announces the death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 90. Circumstances are unknown. More to follow.”
The follow-up tweet read: “Love a Tuesday off if the queens dead, announce it before it’s too late.”
The fake news story about Queen Elizabeth’s death came amid very real questions about her health condition. While it was widely reported that both she and Prince Philip had to skip church service at Sandringham on Christmas Day for the first time in close to 30 years, the extent of her illness was unknown.
Queen Elizabeth also left British media waiting for her train ride to Sandringham, which has become a popular media event. About 30 minutes after she was expected to show, a royal spokesperson notified the press that she was too ill to make the journey.
This is not the first time that a false report claimed that Queen Elizabeth is dead. Back in August, a viral report claimed that the royal family matriarch was found dead in her sleep. The report came from a website called the Guard1an, meant to fool readers into thinking it was the legitimate U.K. newspaper The Guardian.
The report claimed that Queen Elizabeth died after suffering a chest infection and a bad cough — which turned out to be strangely similar to her current affliction.
“Reports reaching us have confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and Head of the Commonwealth has passed away at the Royal Lodge, her Windsor residence, Buckingham Palace announced.
“The release from Buckingham Palace said ‘with the greatest sadness, at about 3.15pm, our beloved monarch Queen Elizabeth II passed away. Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926 in London. She will be missed but not forgotten’ it said.”
As some sharp-eyed readers noted, the Queen Elizabeth II death hoax was word-for-word from the 2002 report of Queen Mother Elizabeth’s death.
The royal family has been a lightning rod for tabloid reports and outright fabrications, especially with regard to Prince William and Duchess Kate. The two are continually surrounded by rumors that Kate Middleton is pregnant again, punctuated with the occasional rumor that they are breaking up.
Other hoaxes have centered around when Prince William will rise to the throne. Australian Network News reported that the previous Queen Elizabeth death hoax was a jump-off point to these separate rumors.
“Despite its fabrication, the Queen Elizabeth II dead headline sparked talks about who would ascend to the throne. Earlier rumors suggested the possible coronation of Prince William and Kate Middleton in her place once she retired. However, the report seemed unlikely since his father Prince Charles is next in line. Then again, the young couple would certainly look good as the King and Queen.”
As the death hoax targeting Queen Elizabeth continues to spread, there is still no official update from Buckingham Palace about her condition or when she is expected to recover.
[Featured Image by Peter Morrison/AP Images]