Instagram gossip blog with 2.8 million followers that said Queen Elizabeth had died is doubling down, claiming a retraction was 'fake news'

Queen Elizabeth II is seen at the Chichester Theatre while visiting West Sussex on November 30, 2017 in Chichester, United Kingdom.
Queen Elizabeth II: A modern monarch.Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images
  • The CEO of a celebrity gossip blog went viral for claiming that Queen Elizabeth II has died.

  • The Queen was diagnosed with COVID-19, Buckingham Palace announced on Sunday.

  • Jason Lee doubled down after a Twitter account that appeared to be for his blog had briefly retracted the claim.

The founder and CEO of the celebrity gossip blog Hollywood Unlocked has doubled down on his unverified and unsubstantiated claim that Queen Elizabeth II has died despite no other outlet reporting such news.

The internet ignited Tuesday after the pop culture blog with 2.8 million Instagram followers published an article that claimed "sources close to the Royal Kingdom" had exclusively told the blog that the Queen had died.

The blog provided no other information on the claim, which has not been addressed by Buckingham Palace. Representatives for Buckingham Palace did not return Insider's request for comment on Wednesday.

As Insider reported, it is extremly unlikely the world would learn of the Queen's death from a gossip site. There are rigid plans in place by the palace that detail everything from who will first be informed to what songs UK radio stations can play before announcing the news.

The post followed an announcement on Sunday that the 95-year-old sovereign had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and had mild symptoms of the disease.

After the blog post spread across social media, the website's founder and CEO, Jason Lee, tweeted "we don't post lies and I always stand by my sources," adding that he was waiting for the palace's "official confirmation."

Hollywood Unlocked did not respond to Insider's request for comment.

Lee also Tuesday posted a screenshot from the iPhone notes app on Instagram that appeared to defend the claim. In the post, he wrote he had "never been wrong" and said he planned to attend the rapper Ye's "Donda" concert later that night.

On Wednesday morning, a Twitter account also called Hollywood Unlocked shared a retraction, saying it sent its "deepest apologies" to the royal family and that "it was an accident and we're working hard to make sure that this mistake never happens again," Variety reported.

The tweet appeared to also blame the article on an "intern journalist" who published "the draft post by mistake," according to the Variety report.

That tweet, which has since been deleted, was lambasted hours later by Lee, who said he "woke up to some fake account posting a retraction" and said "we do not know that account."

The Twitter account has existed since 2019 and has often used the same Hollywood Unlocked logo that is used on its website and Instagram account.

The word "unofficial" appeared to be added to the account's bio on Twitter sometime Wednesday, according to an archived version of the account from Tuesday that showed the bio did not have the word.

Lee also doubled down on his previous claim, saying that "we have not retracted our story" and that "there has yet to be an official statement from the Palace."

"Staying tuned," he added.

Shortly after, he called out Variety on Instagram for writing an article about the now-deleted retraction tweet, calling it "fake news" and asking the publication to "please retract this."

Following Lee's repudiation of the retraction tweet, Variety posted an update at the top of the piece noting Lee claimed the account that shared the apology tweet was "fake" and that he stands by the story's validity.

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