Social media was abuzz yesterday after a British journalist sparked rumours that the country's monarch had died, causing the palace to issue a rare statement insisting that the Queen's health was fine.
Queen Elizabeth II, who recently turned 89, and has reigned for 63 years, is largely popular in the UK, and her death would likely be one of the country's defining events of the year, which may have been behind the overabundant zeal of the reporter.
BBC journalist Ahmen Khawaja sent out the following series of tweets on Thursday morning:
Needless to say, the news caught Twitter by surprise, as there had been no warning about the queen's poor health. This isn't surprising given that the Queen was not actually dead, she wasn't even unwell, reported the UK's Daily Mirror. So where did the erroneous news come from?
As it turns out, the BBC, from whom Khawaja works, were simply practicing for when the queen does in fact die, they just forgot to tell everyone it was only a drill. They later released a statement saying "During a technical rehearsal for an obituary, tweets were mistakenly sent from the account of a BBC journalist saying that a member of the Royal Family had been taken ill. The tweets were swiftly deleted and we apologise for any offence."
News agencies often practice for large scale events, often long before they're likely to happen, and it's not uncommon for them to leak before their needed. Indeed, there's an entire Wikipedia page listing several hundred such cases. However, these matters have been complicated in recent years as platforms like twitter enable news to spread incredibly fast, often getting twisted in the process and making it difficult for newsrooms to get the situation under control.
The situation was muddled further by the fact that, out of sheer coincidence, the Queen did pay a visit to hospital that day, but it was just for a routine check up. Her Majesty is a strong believer in homeopathy, but still receives regular medical advice.
The flurry of inquiries from other journalists prompted Buckingham Palace to release a rare statement on the Queen's health, insisting that everything was fine and that they were unaware where the reports had come from.
The BBC later confirmed to The Independent that they would hold a disciplinary hearing into the event.
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