Social Media Tries to Kill King Charles Again

Social media was flooded Monday with claims that King Charles III has died, with some people pointing to a video of a flag at Buckingham Palace being flown at half-mast. Others passed around an official announcement made to look like the king passed away on Sunday. But they’re all fake. The king is alive, as far as we can tell.

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“Flag is half mast in Buckingham palace. News circulating either King Charles or Kate Middleton is no more,” one common tweet from a blue checkmark account reads.

But as countless other X users pointed out on Monday, the popular video that’s circulating of a flag at half-mast is from late 2022, when Queen Elizabeth II died. Some users on social media have even posted screenshots from livestreams showing the flag at Buckingham Palace isn’t at half-mast.

Another popular piece of “evidence” that the 75-year-old Charles might be dead is a heavily pixelated announcement appearing to come from Buckingham Palace, dated March 18, 2024. The fake announcement simply reads, “The King passed away unexpectedly yesterday afternoon.”

The obviously fake letter has reportedly been making the rounds on Russian-speaking Telegram channels, as well as X, but as the Guardian’s correspondent in Moscow put it, the announcement “looks like it was put together in OpenOffice.”

There have also been false claims that the color of the BBC’s logo had been switched to black from red as some kind of cryptic sign Charles had died.

“BBC UK has changed its logo from red to black on instagram. All other BBC location logos are red. Wtf?” one viral tweet reads.

And while the UK’s Independent media outlet acknowledges color changes can happen after the death of a monarch, there are versions of the BBC logo online that are simply black and always have been.

There’s been a flurry of interest in the British monarchy in recent weeks, not just because Charles was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of February. Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, hasn’t been seen in public lately and had surgery for an abdominal issue, which sparked conspiracy theories about her health. Buckingham Palace tried to quell the rumors by releasing what it presented as a recent photo of Middleton, but that only made things worse after eagle-eyed internet users saw clear signs of digital manipulation.

If Charles did die soon, it would be one of the shortest reigns of any British monarch, while his mother’s reign was one of the longest. Charles has been king for one year, six months, and 10 days.

Only two monarchs have lasted shorter periods. Lady Jane Grey was beheaded for treason in 1554 after just nine days on the throne. And King Edward V died in 1483 after just 78 days in power. The third shortest, King Richard III, was on the throne for two years and 57 days, and Charles could very well surpass that if he lives long enough.