Hollywood Unlocked claimed that it had received exclusive confirmation from a source that the British monarch passed away on Tuesday morning (February 22).
But the news was false. In an unrelated statement, Buckingham Palace announced yesterday (February 23) that the Queen had spoken with Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the phone despite suffering mild symptoms after a recent positive COVID diagnosis.
However, Hollywood Unlocked founder Jason Lee has since told Buzzfeed News that he stands by the story.
“I would never post something like this if the person that told me, I did not trust. People are asking why we posted without allowing the royal family or the Palace to release a statement. Why? Because we break stories. And I’ve broken many stories that have been factual. We have never been wrong,” he told the publication yesterday.
A source suggested to Buzzfeed that there may have been a misunderstanding related to the death of Mark Lanegan – formerly a singer with Queens Of The Stone Age – who died unexpectedly on Tuesday. Lee did not give a response to this suggestion.
Instead, the CEO claimed that a guest who is close to the Queen received a phone call, “reacted emotionally to a few people, and those few people were informed that that’s what happened”. The guest was at the wedding of British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful.
According to Lee, the Queen was supposed to attend the wedding in Wiltshire on Tuesday. But Her Majesty was not included in any published guest lists, has no personal relationship to Enninful, rarely attends celebrity weddings and was in any case isolating due to COVID.
Lee further defended running the story: “It was literally breaking a story. Our intentions are to be factual, to be first when reporting facts, and to trust our sources. And in this case, that’s what we did. We don’t do clickbait stories. We don’t create gossip.”
Ex-Screaming Trees frontman and soloist Lanegan sang on a number of early Queens Of The Stone Age albums including ‘Rated R’ (2000) and ‘Songs For The Deaf’ (2002).