BBC Apologizes After "Obituary Rehearsal" Tweet Sparks Alert Over Queen’s Health
The tweet was later deleted, but not before several major news organizations — including CNN — had reported the news themselves.
The BBC has been forced to apologize after a rogue tweet — part of an "obituary rehearsal” for the death of 89-year-old Queen Elizabeth II — sparked a scare over the British monarch’s health.
On Wednesday morning, BBC Urdu reporter Ahmen Khawaja tweeted the "BREAKING" news that the Queen was being treated at the private King Edward 7th Hospital in London, adding “statement due shortly.” The message caused several major news organizations, including CNN and Bild in Germany, to report news of her hospitalization.
But the headline proved to be erroneous, with a royal spokesperson stating that the Queen was simply having her “annual medical check-up” and was back at Buckingham Palace soon after.
Khawaja soon deleted the tweet, calling it a “false alarm,” saying that she had left her phone at home and calling it a “silly prank.”
However, the BBC later appeared to contradict its reporter.
In a statement, a spokesperson said: "During a technical rehearsal for an obituary, tweets were mistakenly sent from the account of a BBC journalist saying that a member of the royal family had been taken ill,” adding that the tweet was deleted and apologizing for any offense.
According to The Guardian, the head of BBC newsgathering, Jonathan Munro, confirmed details of the rehearsal in an email to staff on Wednesday, describing the exercise as a “low-key rehearsal for the way in which television might cover a category one obituary.”
It added that only four people were in the BBC’s “category one” of public figures — the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Prince William.