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Fact-checking images of Queen Elizabeth II following her death

After Queen Elizabeth II died on Sept. 8, several images appeared on social media that were fake or shared out of context.

Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s residence in Scotland, on Sept. 8  at age 96.

VERIFY has been answering your questions and fact-checking images and videos of the queen that have appeared online since the news of her death. 

More from VERIFY: Irish dancers are not celebrating queen’s death in viral Buckingham Palace video

THE SOURCES

IMAGE #1

Does this photo show the late Prince Philip pranking the queen? 

The photo with the caption, “Prince Phillip trying to prank Queen Elizabeth by dressing as a guard on her way to Buckingham Palace. We could see a smile on the Queen's face,” was shared on Twitter after the queen died.

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WHAT WE FOUND

This is false.

Using RevEye, a reverse image search tool, VERIFY was able to confirm the photo is real and does show Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, in uniform. But, he wasn’t pranking the queen. The two were reacting to a swarm of bees. 

The photo was taken in 2003 while the queen was reviewing a regiment performed by the Grenadier Guards, the British army, at Windsor Castle. Getty Images and The Associated Press both obtained the photo through pool footage, which is footage supplied by a journalist or organization on behalf of a larger group. 

The duke was dressed in military uniform when the photo was taken because he was a colonel of the Grenadier Guards for more than 40 years. 

“Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh enjoy the spectacle, as a swarm of bees causes concern prior to The Queens Company Review at Windsor Castle. A beekeeper removed the swarm, which had gathered on one of the dignitaries chairs, prior to the ceremony,” the pool photo caption says.

When the duke died in April 2021, the British army posted a tribute to him on their YouTube channel. He can be seen in his formal uniform on a number of occasions.


More from VERIFY: Yes, King Charles III’s likeness will start appearing on money in the UK

IMAGE #2

Did a McDonald’s kiosk really display a portrait of the queen?

In a viral photo that's been liked on Twitter over 30,000 times, the queen's image along with the text, "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022," appears on a McDonald's ordering kiosk.

Not only are people sharing the photo across social media, but the New York Post also shared a photo of the kiosk in an article criticizing how some brands, like McDonald’s, handled the news of the queen’s death.

WHAT WE FOUND

This is false.

Using reverse image tools, VERIFY confirmed this photo was edited to make it appear as if the Mcdonald's kiosk featured a photo of the queen. 

The actual photo of the McDonald’s kiosk was taken in 2017 and doesn’t show Queen Elizabeth. It was posted to a travel blog about McDonald’s “restaurant evolution.” 

The actual photo has a green background with options for a McDonald's customer to choose to eat in, dine out, as well as choose which language they would like to use to make the order.

Credit: therarewelshbit.com
The actual photo of the McDonald’s kiosk was taken in 2017 and doesn’t show Queen Elizabeth. It was posted to a travel blog about McDonald’s “restaurant evolution.”

IMAGE #3

Does this photo really show a Nintendo 2DS XL with text on the console claiming the game wouldn’t work until after the Royal Mourning period is over?  

On the video game screen, a photo of the queen is displayed on the top screen. The bottom screen has the Nintendo logo and the words: “Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022. This device is unavailable for the Royal period of Mourning and will continue to be until Monday 19 September.”

WHAT WE FOUND

This is false.

In an email to VERIFY, a spokesperson for Nintendo UK said the photo of the Nintendo is fake.

“I can confirm that the photo on the tweet is fake and the person has either digitally altered the image or has tampered with their Nintendo 2DS XL to display this message,” the spokesperson said.

VERIFY reached out to the Twitter user who posted the photo of the Nintendo and did not hear back at the time of publishing.

VERIFY was able to confirm the screen image on the Nintendo was edited by running an error level analysis using FotoForensics, an open-source image analysis tool. The error level analysis identifies areas in a photo that have different compression levels. When different elements are added to an image (i.e. an overlay), the compression level changes. 

Credit: FotoForensics
This analysis from FotoForensics showed there was significant editing done to the top screen where the queen’s image was added, and to the bottom screen where the text appears.

“With JPEG images, the entire picture should be at roughly the same level. If a section of the image is at a significantly different error level, then it likely indicates a digital modification,” FotoForensics explains on the website

The photo used in the top display is currently on the website of The Royal Family and was used in the announcement of the queen’s death.

IMAGE #4

Was Queen Elizabeth pictured walking with former President Donald Trump while wearing a sash that says “TRUMP WON”? The photo has been circulating on messaging application Telegram in pro-Trump channels and has more than 256,000 views.

The photo is also being shared online by some who believe that Trump did not lose the 2020 election. 

WHAT WE FOUND

This is false.

Former President Donald Trump and the late queen were photographed together several times, but this particular photo was edited. 

The original photo was taken during Trump’s June 2019 visit to Buckingham Palace. In the image, the queen is wearing a blue sash with no text on it.

On Sept. 9, Trump shared the original, unedited photo on his social media platform Truth Social.

More from VERIFY: Yes, Charles automatically became King of England after death of Queen Elizabeth II

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