Over the early part of the week, several false rumors about the Queen's death surfaced across England. Spread through the Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp, the death hoax was caused by merely a military exercise, as stated by the Royal Navy. Saying that they “regret any misunderstanding”, the officials oddly further said that there wasn't anything significant about the exercise.
It all began when the screenshot of a conversation spread across WhatsApp, which then seeped into other social media platforms as well. The conversation read that the military had secret information with regards to the Queen's death saying that she suffered a heart attack on Sunday and passed away, but that the news must be kept quiet until Monday for giving the military sufficient time to prepare.
“Queens passed away this morning, heart attack, being announced 930 Am tomorrow, channel dash 0800, tomorrow in full number 1s, in your black kit bag you need: 1 set of 3s, 1 set of 4s, underwear and socks for 2 weeks, washing kit, body washing kit, cities fornstand down,” read the message by Gibbo.
The above message was originally posted in a WhatsApp group that went by the name “Old Times”; after Gibbo sent the message in the said group, individuals named Burnsy, Cheeks, Morty, Ricey, and Josh who were a part of the group were skeptical about the claims.
However, an anonymous individual decided to screengrab the conversation and shared it elsewhere, resulting in a chain of re-shares and a death hoax.
It is worth noting that the “Old Times” group did seem like an unreliable source of information as the group's profile picture was that of a penis; nonetheless, the public still went on to pass on the news as a credible one and made it viral across the country.
At a point of time when the news was spreading like wildfire, palace officials revealed that the Queen was alright. But then, a journalist from the Portsmouth news misread a tip from a source and stated that the message might have been true as the military staff at RNAS Yeovilton, a military base in Wiltshire partook in a drill to recall procedures for London Bridge (a codename for the operation that will be enforced when the Queen passes away).
A Royal Navy spokesperson reaffirmed that nothing was out of the ordinary and that the drills were routine.
“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,” it was said to the local newspaper, Portsmouth News.