Will the media stop knocking off Prince Philip? The latest to kill him is the Daily Telegraph, which reported the Duke of Edinburgh’s death on August 2. The pre-written death news story for the 96-year-old prince was published on the last day of his public engagements. But, of course, he is still alive.
Unfortunately for the prince, this isn’t the first time the British media announced his death prematurely in recent months. In May, the UK Sun published a similar news story announcing his death, as iMediaEthics reported.
A Telegraph spokesperson told iMediaEthics, “We sincerely apologise for the mistake that was made this morning, which was of course rectified immediately. We will be reviewing our publishing processes as a matter of urgency.” The Telegraph didn’t respond to iMediaEthics’ questions about how long the article was published, how the error occurred, and if the newspaper will publish any note explaining the error and story removal.
The story included filler text for editors to insert the time of death and other details of Prince Philip’s expiration. The headline was “HOLD HOLD HOLD Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, dies ages XX,” according to the Evening Standard. The article read, the Guardian reported:
“The Duke of Edinburgh, the longest-serving consort to a monarch in British history, has died at the age of XX, Buckingham Palace has announced.
“Prince Philip, whom the Queen described as her ‘strength and stay’ during her record-breaking reign, passed away XXXXXXX
“FILL IN DETAILS
“He will be given a royal ceremonial funeral in line with his wishes, which is expected to take place in seven days’ time.”
See below a screenshot of a portion of the article, via the Times of London. “The article was deleted within minutes of being published after readers noticed the incorrect report,” the Sun noted.
The practice of pre-written obituaries or death news stories for older high-profile people is well-known in journalism circles so that reporters can quickly publish the news when it happens. The problem is when journalists accidentally hit publish before a death, or hit publish before the filler text has been replaced with the actual news.
iMediaEthics has documented numerous other similar cases, shich as when People published a pre-written obituary for Kirk Douglas in 2014 even though the actor is still alive (at age 100), and Der Spiegel publishing a 2012 obituary for former President George H. W. Bush, who is also still alive.