Russian Media Behind Fake King Charles Death Rumors

Another reminder not to believe everything you read on the internet.

Monday’s explosive – and false – rumors of King Charles’ death have been traced back to the Russian media.

The fake reports of the monarch’s demise went around the internet so rapidly that Buckingham Palace had to respond, telling Russian state news agency Tass that the king was very much alive.

Here’s what we know about this latest royal saga which had the internet gripped (again) yesterday...

via Associated Press

Where did the rumor come from?

The exact origin of the rumor seems unclear, but it was picked up by two popular Russian Telegram channels – Baza and Mash.

They shared a doctored press release in the style of official royal announcements complete with the palace’s official letterhead, claiming to be from Royal Communications.

It was dated March 18, and claimed: “The King passed away unexpectedly yesterday afternoon [St Patrick’s Day].”

It was similar to the layout of the royal press release declaring the queen’s death back in 2022 – except, crucially, it did not appear on the royal family’s official website or on any of its official channels.

Even so, it was picked up by business newspaper Vedomosti, news site Gazeta.Ru and state-owned agency Sputnik.

The latter reported: “King Charles III of Great Britain has died at the age of 75, according to media reports. There is no information about this on the Royal family website or in the British media.”

Then social media began to speculate that BBC presenters were dressed all in black (they were not), and that its logo had been changed to the same color (it has always been black).

Clips supposedly showing the Union Jack flag at half-mast in Buckingham Palace began to make the rounds, too – although many other users on X (formerly Twitter) quickly debunked that one.

Another rumor, that the BBC was on standby for a major royal announcement, added fuel to the fire as #royalannouncement started trending.

The BBC did not respond when approached by HuffPost UK for comment on this supposed announcement.

How was the rumor debunked?

Luckily, authorities started to pick up on the rumor and managed to debunk it relatively quickly.

The British embassy in Ukraine posted on X that the rumors were fake shortly before Buckingham Palace jumped in.

The royal officials told Russian state news agency Tass: “We are happy to confirm that the King is continuing with official and private business.”

Once the rumors were officially denied by the palace, Russian outlets started to update their websites, too.

What else is going on?

The royals have been at the centre of online speculation in recent weeks.

The King announced last month that he was diagnosed with an undisclosed variety of cancer after a routine surgery for an enlarged prostate.

He has been pictured several times sine the announcement and visited by PM Rishi Sunak for their weekly meeting.

Meanwhile, his daughter-in-law, the Princess of Wales, has also been absent from the public eye after undergoing abdominal surgery for an unspecified reason.

Social media was already wildly speculating about her whereabouts when she released a photograph of herself and her three children to mark Mother’s Day.

It was later discovered that the image was photoshopped, prompting major photo agencies to withdraw it.

Kate admitted the following day that she had edited the photo and apologized for the confusion – but this saga only fed the online trolls.

The Sun reported this week that she was spotted at a Windsor farm shop with husband Prince William.

Kensington Palace has repeatedly said she is still recovering from surgery at home and looking to return to public duties after Easter.

Charles is expected to attend the annual Trooping the Colour celebration in June, meant to honor the monarch’s official birthday.

The Army initially said Kate would be in attendance too, only to retract the statement later, having supposedly published it without the palace’s approval.

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