Hollywood Unlocked Apologizes After False Report of Queen Elizabeth's Death (UPDATE)

As pointed out by BuzzFeed News, the debunked report may have stemmed from a misunderstanding involving the rock band Queens of the Stone Age.

Queen Elizabeth II prepares to greet Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Image via Getty/Chris Jackson - WPA Pool

Queen Elizabeth II prepares to greet Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev

UPDATED 2/25, 11:10 a.m.: On Friday morning Hollywood Unlocked published a post titled “Fact Check: 10 Reasons We Believed Queen Elizabeth Was Dead.” Early on it explains, “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. 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.”

The post wraps with a statement credited to both founder Jason Lee and “the Hollywood Unlocked Team” reading:

“Although I’ve never been wrong when breaking a story because this involves The Queen this is one time I would want to be. And based on Wednesday’s report from the Palace, I can say my sources got this wrong and I sincerely apologize to The Queen and the Royal Family.”

The article also noted, “All news outlets get it wrong sometimes despite their best efforts and we will always take full accountability when that happens.”

See original story below.

Hollywood Unlocked founder Jason Lee is still convinced the queen is dead.

Earlier this week, the celebrity news site published a baseless report announcing that Queen Elizabeth II was found dead Tuesday morning. The shocking news came just days after Buckingham Palace confirmed the 95-year-old monarch had tested positive for COVID-19 and was exhibiting cold-like symptoms.

“Sources close to the Royal Palace notified us exclusively that #QueenElizabeth has passed away,” read a Hollywood Unlocked Instagram post. “She was scheduled to attend the wedding of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, but was found dead.”

Though Instagram has since labeled the report as “false information,” Lee continues to stand by the outlet’s initial reporting, as his team received the news directly from an individual who attended Enninful’s wedding. He also clarified that the source is not related to the Queen, nor do they work with the Royal Family.

“I would never post something like this if the person that told me, I did not trust,” Lee told BuzzFeed News. “People are asking why we posted without allowing the royal family or the Palace to release a statement. Why? Because we break stories. And I’ve broken many stories that have been factual. We have never been wrong.”

As pointed out by BuzzFeed, the Queen rarely attends celebrity weddings and has never been to one involving a gay couple. The publication also notes there is no proof that Queen Elizabeth was expected to attend the star-studded ceremony. Enninful and Buckingham Palace have yet to comment on the report.

According to CNN, Queen Elizabeth had her weekly meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday; but because of her COVID diagnosis, this week’s meeting was held virtually. Officials say she will continue “light duties” throughout her recovery, which could include reviewing and answering documents.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday, despite the monarch suffering mild symptoms after her positive Covid-19 diagnosis. https://t.co/8k3qwKce6f

— CNN (@CNN) February 24, 2022

A source told BuzzFeed the Hollywood Unlocked report may have stemmed from a misunderstanding. On the day of Enninful’s wedding, it was announced that Queens of the Stone Age singer Mark Lanegan had died at age 57. The outlet reported that it’s unclear whether the rockstar was expected to attend the event, but noted some of the wedding guests had ties to the music industry and Lanegan. 

So, is it possible that Hollywood Unlocked simply misunderstood the source? Maybe, but Lee made it clear he isn’t backing down—not now, at least.

“I don’t want to have a call every time there is an update on the internet,” he said when asked if he was aware of Lanegan’s death. “What I said earlier still stands: Until there is a retraction, that’s the story.”

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