People around the world were shocked when Hollywood Unlocked reported that Queen Elizabeth had passed away. However, as days went by with no confirmation from Buckingham Palace, the site was finally forced to retract its statements and apologize, long after we called the site out for poor reporting.
‘Hollywood Unlocked’ Apologizes For False Claims
Even though it was pretty clear from the start that there was no truth to this story, the site’s CEO and founder Jason Lee made it worse by doubling down on the story. “We don’t post lies and I always stand by my sources. Waiting for an official statement from the palace,” Lee tweeted.
However, the website has now published a retraction, apologizing for misleading anyone. HU’s follow-up to the original story is a fact-check on their piece, showing readers what led them to believe they had the correct information.
“On behalf of our small but mighty team, we want to first say that we heard your concerns and acknowledge the sensitivity around this topic,” the team wrote. “We not only understand the global reach of the British monarchy, but also recognize that above all else The Queen is a mother, grandmother, and beloved public figure who deserves to be approached with respect.”
Given the confusion our original post has caused, Lee and everyone else at this publication would like to take a moment to lay out exactly why HU believed the 95-year-old royal had passed away and felt empowered to report it,” they continued.
An Inside Look At What Led Them To Believe The Queen Had Passed Away
According to HU, Lee was contacted by someone who was attending British Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enniful’s wedding. The source claimed they witnessed a call where a high-profile guest was told the queen had died. The source also claimed that the rest of the wedding guests heard the news and were upset.
“Given her COVID diagnosis, and the credibility of our original source, Lee then spoke to another source familiar with the British military,” the site explained. “This person confirmed directly to Lee that the palace had been locked down and all the top generals had been summoned to Windsor Castle ‘for an undisclosed reason’ just four hours before Hollywood Unlocked broke the news.”
“Breaking the news that Britain’s longest-reigning monarch has passed is no simple matter and as we previously reported, there is an extensive game plan in place for that occurrence that has been dubbed Operation London Bridge,” they continued, referring to the protocol in place for when Queen Elizabeth dies. “The accounts we received on Tuesday were aligned with the approach of that protocol and appeared to further substantiate claims that Her Majesty’s health had taken a turn for the worse.”
Buckingham Palace still has not publicly commented on the rumors, nor would we expect them to, but it soon became clear to Hollywood Unlocked — and the rest of the world — that it had gotten this one wrong, as we predicted. While it’s admirable that the site is willing to admit they were wrong and apologize, it’s unfortunate that their journalists engaged in such lax reporting practices.