- REUTERS/Chris Jackson/Pool
- A viral WhatsApp text announcing the Queen’s death was accidentally spread by a Royal Navy staffer who confused a routine drill with the real thing.
- The mistake was made by a recruit at Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton, 35 miles south of Bristol, on Sunday, the Portsmouth News reported.
- Personnel were practicing “Operation London Bridge,” the codename for the procedure for when the Queen dies, after which the unnamed person sent the message.
- The message then went viral on Twitter and Facebook, which spawned tributes and several hashtags.
- Speaking to British media, a Buckingham Palace source debunked the news on Monday, calling it “business as usual.”
- The Royal Navy said: “While the exercise was conducted properly, we regret any misunderstanding this may have caused.”
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The viral WhatsApp message that claimed Queen Elizabeth II had died was started by a Royal Navy staff member who confused a practice drill for the real thing.
The false news spread across social media last Sunday, garnering thousands of tweets and Facebook posts, and spawning several hashtags.
The cause of the false alarm was a misunderstanding by someone at Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton, Portsmouth News reported.
Naval personnel were practicing “Operation London Bridge” – the codename for the procedure for when the Queen dies – when one person thought it was happening for real and passed the message onto those outside the base, the paper said.
The sourcing attached to the initial viral WhatsApp message was “from a guards reg WhatsApp group,” referring to a regiment in the British Army’s Guards Division.
“Queens passed away this morning, heart attack, being announced 930 Am tomorrow, channel dash 0800 tomorrow in full numbers 1s,” it said, referring to the Navy’s ceremonial uniform by its colloquial name of “number 1s.”
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson debunked the news, speaking to British media on Monday, calling it “business as usual.”
The Queen welcomed NATO leaders at a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night, looking sanguine and very much alive.
Citing the Royal Navy, the Portsmouth News, said the incident was a “genuine mistake” and that “no malice” was intended.
The Royal Navy later said in a formal statement: “We can confirm an internal exercise took place at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in line with established contingency plans for recall of personnel.”
“These exercises are conducted on a regular basis and no significance should be drawn from the timing of the exercise.”
“While the exercise was conducted properly, we regret any misunderstanding this may have caused.”