BBC journalist Ahmen Khawaja had sparked global panic when she killed off Queen Elizabeth through a tweet. While BBC had since corrected the mistake, the incident shed light to the fact that announcements of Queen Elizabeth’s death is actually being rehearsed as early as now with ready scripts, while the Queen is still very much healthy.
“Queen Elizabeth has died”
The pandemonium erupted when Khawaja sent a tweet saying: “Queen Elizabeth has died @BBCWorld.” The tweet was picked up by different media networks.
The tweet was then followed by a second tweet from Khawaja saying: “False alarm to Queen’s death. She is being treated at King Edward 7th Hospital in London. Statement due shortly.”
This tweet was then followed by another tweet of Khawaja saying that she had left her phone at home, unattended and someone made the silly prank. Her tweet went: “Silly prank, Apologies for upsetting anyone!”
The hullabaloo was intensified because by sheer coincidence the Queen, indeed, was at King Edward 7th Hospital for her annual health check-up. The controversy was escalating to an almost uncontainable level that the Buckingham Palace was compelled to issue a statement denying the rumors of the Queen’s death. According to various UK media, this is a break to royal protocol of supposedly not commenting about the health of any of the royal family members.
The Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed that the Queen attended her annual medical check-up at the King Edward VII’s Hospital in London. The check-up was a routine, pre-scheduled appointment.
BBC is holding a category one obituary technical rehearsal
The BBC has already apologized. In a tweet, the broadcasting network said the that tweets were sent mistakenly from the account of a journalist during a technical rehearsal. “The tweets were swiftly deleted and we apologized for any offence.”
READ: BBC statement on journalist's erroneous tweets: pic.twitter.com/a0kJxfp68r
— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) June 3, 2015
‘King Edward VII Hospital’ was part of the BBC script for the said rehearsal, The Telegraph reported. The broadcasting site said that it was carrying a royal death rehearsal in the morning of June 3. Jonathan Munro, BBC head of news gathering, had even warned staff against posting on social media channels.
It has been a common practice that big news sites have obituaries ready for aged or terminally ill famous personality. The Queen is very healthy and can still attend to her royal duties actively.
In its statement, BBC did not mention that it was actually the death of the Queen that it was rehearsing. However, unnamed sources have told The Telegraph that the mistaken tweets from Khawaja were sent as a “direct result” of her overhearing the whole rehearsal and mistaken it “for the real thing.”
Munro’s email to staff
The Telegraph has obtained a copy of Munro’s email to BBC staff explaining how the rehearsal will take place. The email was sent before the whole hullabaloo on Khawaja’s tweet erupted.
In the email, Munro said the rehearsal is to be conducted for “the way in which television might cover a Category One obituary.” The rehearsal was to be “mainly a technical procedure looking at the use of the studio.”
“This has been in the diary for some time – there is NO editorial reason why this is happening now. Procedures have been put in place to isolate the rehearsal from any output. It’s essential that we can rehearse these sensitive scenarios privately,” Munro wrote.
“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,” he said.
Khawaja’s tweets have all since been deleted but NBCNews was able to get screenshots.
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