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How the BBC got 'news' of the Queen's 'hospitalisation' completely wrong

By Lizzie Dearden

Published 03/06/2015

The Queen has left hospital after a routine health check
The Queen has left hospital after a routine health check

Panic spread about the Queen’s health this morning after a BBC journalist’s tweet claimed that she had been admitted to hospital.

Ahmen Khawaja quickly deleted a post claiming that the monarch had been admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London.

"False alarm to Queen's death!" it said. "She is being treated at King Edward 7th hospital. Statement due shortly."

Ms Khawaja has since apologised for upsetting anyone and said the “silly prank” happened when she left her phone unattended at home.

But the retraction was not quick enough to stop the story spreading across the world on Twitter and being picked up by international news sources.

CNN Newsource, an affiliate of the US broadcaster which claims to use its “worldwide resources…to give you a dynamic newscast”, sent out the claim.

“JUST IN,” its tweet read. “Queen Elizabeth II hospitalised at King Edward 7th Hospital in London.”

The message was deleted and followed by an apology reading: “Affiliates, please disregard our previous tweet about Queen Elizabeth. It was sent in error.”

Influential German tabloid Bild also sent out a tweet with the “breaking news”, containing a link to its website.

A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said the Queen had attended the hospital  “very briefly” on Wednesday morning but was not ill.

He told The Independent: “I can confirm that the Queen this morning attended her annual medical check-up at the King Edward VII's Hospital.

“This was a pre-scheduled appointment and the Queen has now left the hospital.”

Aides do not routinely release information about the royal family’s medical care as it is considered private but the Palace decided to issue a statement to dispel the Twitter rumours.

The Queen’s schedule was not affected by the appointment and she is expected to attend a reception this evening.

A BBC spokesperson said that the mistake happened during a "rehearsal" for the 89-year-old monarch's death.

She added: “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. The tweets were swiftly deleted and we apologise for any offence.”

The spokesperson said she could not comment on how the rehearsal was linked with Ms Khawaja's account of a "prank".

Source Independent

Independent News Service

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