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Queen Elizabeth II Carries On with Official Duties, Contrary to Unsubstantiated Report of Her Death


Quick Take

Queen Elizabeth II has tested positive for COVID-19, Buckingham Palace announced on Feb. 20. But posts on social media spread unsubstantiated claims that the 95-year-old had died. The palace said the queen was experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms.” 


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Buckingham Palace announced on Feb. 20 that Queen Elizabeth II had tested positive for COVID-19. The palace said that the 95-year-old had “mild cold-like symptoms,” but still expected to perform “light duties” in the coming week. The palace added that Elizabeth would “continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines.”

Queen Elizabeth II speaks during an audience at Windsor Castle when she met the incoming and outgoing defence service secretaries on Feb. 16. Photo by Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images

On Feb. 22, the queen canceled her scheduled online engagements as the palace reported that she was still experiencing mild symptoms.

But Hollywood Unlocked, a celebrity gossip publication, posted an unsubstantiated report Feb. 22 on its website and on its Facebook page that the queen had died. The article claimed that Hollywood Unlocked had been exclusively notified about the queen’s passing by a “Source close to the Royal Kingdom.”

Other posts and a YouTube video also spread the unsubstantiated claim. 

A Twitter account identifying itself as Hollywood Unlocked apologized on Feb. 23 for publishing the claim, Newsweek reported. But Jason Lee, publisher of Hollywood Unlocked, later called that Twitter account “fake” and said that the story had not been retracted.

Lee wrote on Twitter: “We don’t post lies and I always stand by my sources. Waiting for an official statement from the palace.” The unsubstantiated story remained on Lee’s site on Feb. 23.

There is no evidence, however, that Queen Elizabeth II is dead.

Buckingham Palace told Newsweek that it never responds to rumors of this kind. 

The U.K. government has a detailed plan — dubbed Operation LONDON BRIDGE — to release the news in the event of the queen’s passing, Politico reported in September. There is no evidence that the process has been initiated.

It’s also worth noting that the U.K. publication Metro reported the queen held her weekly audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson by phone on Feb. 23.

And the royal family’s official Twitter account tweeted on Feb. 23 about the queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration in early June. “There’s 100 days to go until the #PlatinumJubilee celebration Weekend!” the tweet said

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Brazell, Emma. “Queen gets back to work after Covid diagnosis as she has phone call with Boris.” Metro. 23 Feb 2022.

Burton, Jamie. “Jason Lee says Hollywood Unlocked Won’t Retract ‘Queen Is Dead’ Story.” Newsweek. 23 Feb 2022.

Foster, Max and Lauren Said-Moorhouse. “Queen cancels virtual engagements as she is still experiencing mild Covid symptoms.” CNN. 22 Feb 2022.

The Royal Family. “There’s 100 days to go until #PlatinumJubilee celebration Weekend.” Twitter. 23 Feb 2022.

Wickham, Alex. “Britain’s plan for when Queen Elizabeth II dies.” Politico. 3 Sep 2021.