Untangling the Drama Behind Queen Elizabeth II's Death Hoax

As Queen Elizabeth II continues to recover from COVID-19, one blog doesn’t appear to be backing down from its claims that the monarch passed away.

By Mike Vulpo Feb 24, 2022 12:00 AMTags
Watch: Queen Elizabeth II Tests Positive for Covid-19

UPDATE: Hollywood Unlocked's CEO is sharing new details about its reporting regarding Queen Elizabeth II.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Jason Lee said he felt confident to report the monarch's death after hearing the news "directly" from a wedding guest of British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful. Jason said that a guest close to the Queen received a phone call, "reacted emotionally to a few people, and those few people were informed that that's what happened."

One source suggested to BuzzFeed News that there may have been a misunderstanding related to the death of Queens of the Stone Age singer Mark Lanegan, who died on Feb. 22 at the age of 57.

"I would never post something like this if the person that told me, I did not trust," Jason said. "People are asking why we posted without allowing the royal family or the Palace to release a statement. Why? Because we break stories."

On Feb. 23, a senior royal source told NBC News that the queen spoke to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson by phone on Feb. 23. See how the story first went viral below.


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On Feb. 22, Hollywood Unlocked inspired more than a few rounds of "God Save the Queen" when they claimed the long-reigning monarch had died at the age of 95.

"Sources close to the Royal Palace notified us exclusively that #QueenElizabeth has passed away," the blog's Instagram post stated. "She was scheduled to attend the wedding of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, but was found dead. Story developing."

A few hours later, the website shared another post standing by its story. This time, however, it was flagged by Instagram as "false information."

Hours before the report surfaced, however, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed the Queen was recovering from COVID-19. "As Her Majesty is still experiencing mild cold like symptoms she has decided, not to undertake her planned virtual engagements today," the statement read, "but will continue with light duties."

So while many royal watchers were convinced that Hollywood Unlocked got it wrong, the website's founder and CEO stood by the story.

"Regarding the Queen Elizabeth story…" Jason Lee wrote on Instagram. "1. I've never lied. 2. I've never been wrong. 3. I trust my sources. 4. I have yet to see an official statement from the palace saying otherwise. 5. I'll be at the Donda concert tonight with YE."


Some fans thought that Jason was finally changing his tone when an apology surfaced online in the early morning hours of Feb. 23.

"Our deepest apologies goes out to the #RoyalFamily and all involved in this embarrassing situation," Hollywood Unlocked reportedly wrote in a since-deleted tweet. "It was an accident and we're working hard to make sure that this mistake never happens again. The intern journalist was misinformed and published the draft post by mistake. – HU."

But in another twist few people saw coming, Jason stood by the story yet again on Feb. 23.

"Woke up to some fake account posting a retraction," he wrote on Twitter. "We do not know that account and we have not retracted our story. There has yet to be an official statement from the Palace. Staying tuned."

The palace has not commented on Hollywood Unlocked's report or issued further statements about the Queen's well-being. 

Originally published Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022 at 10:39 a.m. PST

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