Queen Elizabeth, opening ceremony


Queen Elizabeth II is alive and well.

Ahmen Khawaja, a reporter working for the BBC's Urdu-language service, posted on Twitter that the 89-year-old British royal had been taken to hospital. A second tweet announced: "Queen Elizabrth [sic] has died." That incorrect tweet was "swiftly" deleted, the BBC told NBC News Wednesday. Still, some media outlets, including CNN Newsource and German newspaper Bild, picked up the tweets.

Khawaja said she had left her cellphone at home unattended. She tweeted, "Silly prank, Apologies for upsetting anyone!" She also fixed her Twitter feed, explaining, "False Alarm: Have deleted previous tweets!!"

So, how did this happen?

The BBC's press office contradicted Khawaja's explanation of the "prank."

In a statement to NBC News, a BBC spokesperson said Wednesday, "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 apologize for any offense."

CNN Newsource apologized for picking up the tweet, writing, "Affiliates, please disregard our previous tweet about Queen Elizabeth. It was sent in error."

In a phone conversation with ITV's royal producer, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Her Royal Highness is perfectly healthy. "I can confirm that the Queen this morning attended her annual medical checkup at the King Edward VII hospital in London. This was a routine pre-scheduled appointment. The Queen has now left hospital and carries on with her engagements today."

Per The Guardian, the head of BBC newsgathering, Jonathan Munro, confirmed details of the rehearsal in an e-mail to staff Wednesday. "This has been in the diary for some time—there is NO editorial reason why this is happening now," he said, describing the exercise as a "low-key rehearsal for the way in which television might cover a category one obituary." Four people are in the BBC's "category one" of public figures: the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Prince William.

"It's essential that we can rehearse these sensitive scenarios privately," Munro wrote in his e-mail. "BBC tours have been suspended, and the blinds from public areas including reception and the media café will remain dropped. I'd also ask for your help in refraining from any external conversations and all social media activity about this exercise. Your continued discretion will be greatly appreciated."

(E! and NBC News are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)

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