Russian Media Spreads Fabricated News of King Charles’ Demise

The story broke via Russian media on Monday afternoon. King Charles III has died. He wasn’t, but no one had time to investigate the details. The royal family’s tale has finally had a new twist: a viral Russian misinformation aspect.

The allegation gained traction after it was shared on a Telegram channel used by Vedomosti, previously Russia’s most renowned business newspaper. There was a photo of Charles in ceremonial military attire with the simple caption: “British King Charles III has died.” It made its way across Russian online channels, including Readovka, a pro-Kremlin Telegram channel with over 2.35 million users.

There was no BBC announcement or a public declaration from Buckingham Palace. However, Readovka did have a paper of unknown origin that it put next to a portrait of the King. “The following announcement is made by royal communications,” it went on to say. “The king passed away unexpectedly yesterday afternoon.” It was dated March 18, 2024. That was all.

The file, whose originator is unknown, was closely based on the palace’s statement of the late queen’s death, which stated: “The queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.” Another version circulating was an abdication letter, which admittedly referred to Charles’ successor as “King Bob, the yellow Minion”.

At this point, the news had reached Ukraine and was reposted by a major television station. It had also traveled as far as Tajikistan, where Asia-Plus, the country’s largest independent media site, published an article.

However, there was rising fear that this might not be the case. The Russian website Gazeta.Ru first tweeted: “King Charles III of Great Britain has died.” Buckingham Palace reported this. The monarch was 75 years old. “He was recently diagnosed with cancer.” However, it was later changed to include: “At the same time, nothing about this has been reported in the official British media. Most likely, the information is false.” One prominent Russian media editor also published the piece, stating, “I can’t tell if it’s true or not.” Later, he stated that Buckingham Palace’s website had likely been “hacked”.

By then, the memes had already begun. A pro-Kremlin channel uploaded a photo of King Charles’ head inserted into a recent photograph of the Princess of Wales, which was rejected by multiple news outlets. “Photo fact: Buckingham Palace has distributed a fresh photo of King Charles III to dispel rumors about his death,” the news agency reported. “London looks pathetic,” wrote the Russian foreign ministry official, who shared the photo.

Finally, the word broke from the Russian state news outlet Tass: “King Charles III continues to perform his official duties and attend private engagements.”

Leave a Reply