Queen Elizabeth II Dead Rumor Spread by Hollywood Unlocked Sparks Ridicule

Queen Elizabeth II was at the center of a viral fake news outcry after a gossip website with 2.8 million Instagram followers proclaimed her death.

Hollywood Unlocked published a news story saying the 95-year-old Monarch, who has COVID-19, had been found dead shortly before she was expected at British Vogue editor Edward Enninful's wedding.

The claim was published late in the evening U.K. time on February 22, allowing it to go viral in America while much of Britain was asleep.

However, several aspects of the coverage were rapidly debunked, most significantly the suggestion she was planning to attend Enninful's celebrity wedding at the Longleat estate in Wiltshire.

The queen is not known for dropping by the nuptials of the rich and famous, in fact she did not attend her own son Prince Charles' legal ceremony at Windsor Guildhall in 2005 due to a personal policy that she only attends religious weddings.

Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, had been denied a church wedding under now old-fashioned Church of England rules relating to the bride's status as a divorcee with a living ex-husband—and so the queen attended a blessing for the couple later in the day.

Royal commentator Marlene Koenig wrote on Twitter: "I hate to break the news to you but that's not how it works in announcing the death of a sovereign. I suggest you get new sources. She would also not be going to the vogue editor's wedding, she doesn't know him, she only goes to family weddings."

Buckingham Palace do not comment on internet rumors of this kind and would not be drawn when contacted by Newsweek, but it was business as usual at Kensington Palace on Wednesday morning.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's official Twitter account posted details of the Duchess of Cambridge's solo tour of Denmark.

The queen is experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms after testing positive for coronavirus on Sunday and canceled scheduled video meetings for the day.

However, she was well enough to continue light duties just hours before Hollywood Unlocked's story, meaning the decline in her health would have been sudden were the story true.

The language used in the article was also decidedly unroyal, including references to the "royal kingdom," a phrase that does not appear anywhere on the royal family's website and is not in common parlance.

Hollywood Unlocked also described Elizabeth as having been "found dead," phrasing more at home in a police press release than communications from the palace.

However, Jason Lee, founder of Hollywood Unlocked, stood by his coverage on Twitter: "We don't post lies and I always stand by my sources. Waiting for an official statement from the palace."

The report was mocked by many, with comedian James Jefferson commenting on Instagram: "The Royal Family: 'Damn the Queen died, hit up Jason real quick!' [face with tears emoji]"

It also drew criticism from more serious quarters with Dayo Okewale, a chief of staff within the House of Lords, writing: "Hollywood unlocked posting the Queen is dead???? There is no credible source that verifies this. #False."

Queen ELizabeth II at Scottish Parliament
Queen Elizabeth II, seen at the Scottish Parliament on October 2, 2021, has mild, cold-like symptoms after contracting COVID-19. A gossip website was ridiculed after posting a story suggesting she had died. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images