Buckingham Palace has confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II is alive after an entertainment website continued to spread false information about the 95-year-old monarch, who is currently recovering from COVID-19.
A palace spokesman said on Wednesday night that the queen had spoken by telephone with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The weekly meeting could not take place in person because it would’ve been a violation of her requirement to self-isolate.
The statement came nearly a day after Hollywood Unlocked, a celebrity news outlet with a large following on Instagram and YouTube, falsely reported that the queen had died. A parliamentary official immediately denied the report, but the website and its founder, Jason Lee, doubled down in the absence of a statement from the palace.
“We don’t post lies and I always stand by my sources. Waiting for an official statement from the palace,” Lee said on Tuesday night. He emphasized on Wednesday that the website was not retracting the report and that he was still waiting for a statement.
The claim from Hollywood Unlocked went viral on social media and quickly became the number-one trend on Twitter. Rumors about the queen’s condition persisted throughout Wednesday after Lee and the outlet doubled down on the false report.
Hollywood Unlocked’s post on Instagram has since been flagged as misinformation.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Lee said he heard the rumor from someone who went to Tuesday’s wedding of British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful. The guest claimed that the queen was due to attend his wedding, even though this had not been announced and the monarch is not known to have a personal relationship with Enninful.
Lee said the guest told him that someone else at the wedding “reacted emotionally” upon getting a phone call, after which that person was heard saying that the queen had died. But that person may have actually been referring to “Queens of the Stone Age” member Mark Lanegan, whose unexpected death was reported on Tuesday night.
There was no immediate response to the official denial from either Hollywood Unlocked or Lee himself.
Buckingham Palace announced on Sunday that the queen, who is 95 years old, was suffering from mild, cold-like symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19. In an update on Tuesday, the palace said Elizabeth continued to suffer from cold-like symptoms.
Elizabeth is believed to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which includes a booster shot.
Elizabeth II is the queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and 11 other Commonwealth nations. She is the longest-reigning monarch in British history with a reign of more than 70 years. She was married to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021 at the age of 99.