Update: 6:22 p.m. ET Feb. 23, 2022 – Jason Lee revealed to BuzzFeed News the “source” behind his Tuesday night (Feb. 22) report on Hollywood Unlocked that claimed Queen Elizabeth II died. The alleged source was a guest attending the wedding of British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful. According to Lee, the Queen was supposed to attend the lavish ceremony, although her attendance would have been outside of her norm and despite her not having a personal relationship with Enninful.
One UK-based news outlet clarified that Lee’s source may have gotten the death of Queens of the Stone Age singer Mark Lanegan, who actually died on Tuesday, confused with the Queen. News of the singer’s death hit social media within an hour of the Hollywood Unlocked post, which was labeled as “false information” on Instagram.
Lee explained to BuzzFeed News, “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. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and everything aligns with me feeling very confident, which is why I doubled down on it. Now if I’m wrong, I’ll be the first one to go out there and say, hey, it’s the first time I got it wrong and this is a big wrong, on to the next story.”
It has been confirmed the 95-year-old monarch is not dead as she spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson via phone on Wednesday (Feb. 23).
Read the original report below…
On Sunday (Feb. 20), it was reported by the Associated Press that Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for COVID-19 and was exhibiting mild, cold-like symptoms. Her diagnosis prompted her team to cancel upcoming virtual engagements. However, gossip blog Hollywood Unlocked posted an “exclusive” with a headline that reads, “Queen Elizabeth Dead.” An accompanying Instagram post from the blog captioned the story, “Sources close to the Royal Palace notified us exclusively that #QueenElizabeth has passed away. She was scheduled to attend the wedding of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, but was found dead. Story developing.”
For several reasons, many found this both deplorable and humorous. Jason Lee, the founder of the outlet, took to his respective social media accounts to explain his side of the story. “We don’t post lies and I always stand by my sources. Waiting for an official statement from the palace,” the 44-year-old wrote. Following the backlash, an unofficial Twitter account for Hollywood Unlocked posted an apology that has since been deleted.
We don’t post lies and I always stand by my sources. Waiting for an official statement from the palace.
— Jason Lee (@theonlyjasonlee) February 22, 2022
The retraction read, “Our deepest apologies goes out to the #RoyalFamily and all involved in this embarrassing situation. It was an accident and we’re working hard to make sure this mistake never happens again. The intern journalist was misinformed and published the draft post by mistake. -HU.”
Yet, according to Lee, the actual mistake was the aforementioned retraction. On Wednesday (Feb. 23), he shared on Twitter, “Woke up to some fake account posting a retraction. We do not know that account and we have not retracted our story. There has yet to be an official statement from the Palace. Staying tuned.” He even told Variety to retract their story on this situation regarding the apology.
Life comes at you fast ? pic.twitter.com/DrTIZPsruy
— Lex (@iamlexstylz) February 23, 2022
Woke up to some fake account posting a retraction. We do not know that account and we have not retracted our story. There has yet to be an official statement from the Palace. Staying tuned.
— Jason Lee (@theonlyjasonlee) February 23, 2022
Though still getting slammed by several news outlets, Lee shared in an iOS press release posted to Instagram, “I’ve never lied. I’ve never been wrong. I trust my sources. I have yet to see an official statement from the palace saying otherwise. I’ll be at the Donda concert tonight with YE.”
To make matters worse, despite Lee labeling the account that posted the apology as fake, the account declared that it has been the official Hollywood Unlocked Twitter account since the original one was suspended.
What do you mean? This was always our page after the first one was suspended.
— Hollywood Unlocked (@HollywoodUL) February 23, 2022
Buckingham Palace did share in a statement on Tuesday (Feb. 22) confirming Queen Elizabeth II is still battling COVID, but provided no further updates. Jason Lee, though, is standing by his statements.