Ffive years ago, Sam Knight of this publication wrote a long read entitled “London Bridge is down”; a dark forensic examination of what will happen immediately after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Knight explained that the news will fall in an orderly and frictionless fashion. First to government officials via a password, then to the BBC and the Press Association and finally a black-bordered notice pinned to the gates of Buckingham Palace. When it does, it will be well rehearsed and highly organized.
What Sam Knight didn’t predict, however, was that news of the Queen’s death would leak exclusively to a celebrity news blog run by a man best known for a bit of a spin-off. off of a VH1 reality hip-hop dating show. But hey, no one succeeds all the time.
To be clear, as far as anyone in the world knows right now, the queen is not dead. But it didn’t stop hollywood unblocked — a blog maintained by Love & Hip Hop star Jason Lee (not to be confused with the Jason Lee of the films Alvin and the Chipmunks) — for announcing it on Tuesday night. “Socialites,” the offending post began, “it is with our deepest regret to inform you that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has passed away. Sources close to the Royal Kingdom have exclusively informed us that Queen Elizabeth has passed away. She was supposed to attend the wedding of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, but she was found dead.
Now, clearly, there’s a lot to unpack here. The claim that the Queen was “found dead”, as if she had wandered off into Hyde Park to be discovered by a dog walker, suggests a lack of expertise on the subject. So does the phrase “sources close to the Royal Kingdom”, as that technically describes anyone living in or around the UK. Finally, it seems quite unlikely that the Queen will attend Enninful’s wedding, since most reports claim that the guest list for this event is reserved for all of Beckham and Delevingnes’ myriad.
Nonetheless, Lee sticks to his guns. On Instagram, following the Hollywood Unlocked post, he uploaded a note reading“1. I have never lied. 2. I have never been wrong. 3. I trust my sources. I’ll be at the Donda concert tonight with Ye.
And it sparks an extraordinary battle between the power of the British monarchy and a blogger that no one knew existed 18 hours ago. If he is wrong, his reputation will be in tatters. But if he’s right, an entire constitutional transfer that’s been going on for decades will be derailed. This will mean that the British population will have to entirely recalibrate their expectations for major events. If Queen Elizabeth’s death was really announced on a C-list celebrity blog, then what can we expect next? Will we learn of the death of Prince Charles thanks to a sequence of emojis on Snapchat? Will it be exclusively revealed by a novelty chat account on TikTok? It’s not worth thinking about.
And what about Buckingham Palace now? Should he officially refuse a blog post on the Internet? Will we soon be greeted by the image of Queen Elizabeth giving a thumbs up next to a copy of today’s newspaper to demonstrate that she is alive and vibrant? You would think not, because that would set a ridiculous precedent. Anyone could claim she was dead, and the palace would have to deny it. It’s not a very dignified way to pass the winter of your years.
To be fair to Lee, if you’re picking someone to be the subject of a fake death prank, a nonagenarian with Covid seems like the safest bet. However, all signs currently point to him being wrong. Which isn’t to say it should completely ignore Hollywood Unlocked, of course. If you want to read stories about teachers who gave students cum filled cupcakesit remains a rock-solid source of information.