Photo Credit: www.royal.gov.uk
A tweet by a reporter for the BBC went viral internationally on Wednesday. The tweet was sent by reporter Ahmen Khawaja and inaccurately reported that Queen Elizabeth had been admitted to King Edward VII’s hospital, in Marylebone, London
The BBC has initiated an investigation regarding the false tweet and has said that it was the result of a training exercise. This contradicted the explanation of the tweet sender, who said that a prankster had access to her phone and used it to falsely tweet misinformation.
Buckingham Palace denied the report, but more confusion arose when the Queen was spotted at the hospital. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “I can confirm that the Queen this morning attended her annual medical checkup at the King Edward VII’s hospital in London. This was a routine, pre-scheduled appointment. The Queen has now left hospital.”
Khawaja initially tweeted that "the Queen had died." A few minutes later she deleted this tweet and tweeted that "the Queen was in the hospital." She then deleted this tweet and tweeted that it had all been a "silly prank."
False stories from news channels all over the world began to circulate about the Queen's health, causing news channels to recant statements they had made to their audiences.
According to Jonathan Munro, head of BBC sent an email out of Wednesday saying “This has been in the diary for some time – there is NO editorial reason why this is happening now,” he said, describing the exercise as a “low-key rehearsal for the way in which television might cover a category-one obituary”.
“It’s essential that we can rehearse these sensitive scenarios privately,” Munro said in his email. “BBC tours have been suspended, and the blinds from public areas including reception and the media café will remain dropped. 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.”
Munro also stated: “It’s mainly a technical procedure looking at the use of the studio. It does not involve any sites outside New Broadcasting House and it will not include radio or online.”
BBC also said: “It’s no secret that big media organizations carry out rehearsals for how they would cover the death of a major public figure. But the important thing is you don’t tell anyone you’re doing it.”
One source said the rehearsals are always taken very seriously by the BBC's management and staff. “They are all done in real time and the presenters change into something more sombre, just as they would do if it was the real thing,” the source said.
"Rogue BBC tweet sparks global news alert about Queen's health ..." Insert Name of Site in Italics. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jun. 2015 <http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/03/queens-health-bbc-tweet-global-ne>.