Queen Elizabeth II is not dead, but reports of the British monarch’s death still made the rounds this week after a death hoax targeting the 90-year-old went viral.
The Queen is the latest person to be the center of false reports of an untimely death, though she may be the most prominent one yet to fall victim to a death hoax. The reports began circulating earlier in the week after a story from a website called the Guard1an, which was made to imitate the legitimate U.K. newspaper the Guardian.
The report claimed that Queen Elizabeth II was found dead after suffering a chest infection and a bad cough and that the news of her death was verified by officials from Buckingham Palace.
Although the website itself was a knock-off of a real news outlet, the copy of the article could have fooled readers who didn’t realize that it was a fake.
“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.”
There were some other signs that the Queen Elizabeth II death story was a fake. Some readers noted that the wording in the fake report was an exact copy of the 2002 report of Queen Mother Elizabeth’s death.
There have been many celebrities to fall victim to viral death reports in the past few years, but normally these are reserved for actors and athletes and rarely strike world leaders, which are generally harder to fool readers. Many noted that Queen Elizabeth’s real death would have been major international news, not relegated to one news website and certainly not spreading exclusively on social media.
In fact, anyone who went online to find out more information about the alleged death of Queen Elizabeth II would have found that she was actually in the news for making a personal donation to victims of the earthquake in Italy.
But the death hoax still managed to convince a number of people, some of whom went online to share their condolences.
BREAKING: British monarch Queen Elizabeth II has passed away in her sleep this afternoon at the age of 90. pic.twitter.com/CYqbGXTjZC— Ahmed Khan (@AhmedKhanNews) August 26, 2016
My mum got some fake broadcast on whatsapp that queen Elizabeth just died and her hand was shaking. Where does she know her from pls ????— ㅤ (@7yemz) August 25, 2016
Others reported on the death hoax as a means to discuss other stories. Australian Network News notes that some readers discussed the rumors that Prince Charles may step out of line and allow his son, Prince William, to take the throne along with Kate Middleton.
“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.”
The story also proved how popular stories about the royal family are with readers. As the Australian Network News report hinted at, Kate Middleton and Prince William are usually the ones at the center of tabloid reports with little or no connection to the truth.
There have been a steady stream of reports that the two are planning to have another baby, including some claiming that Duchess Kate is already pregnant. Meanwhile, some competing reports claim that the couple is in deep relationship trouble and could be facing a divorce. None of these reports have been based on fact but instead rely on unnamed sources.
The royal family has not made an official response to the viral hoax claiming that Queen Elizabeth II was dead.
[Photo by Alastair Grant/AP Images]