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Strange message interrupts Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in live broadcast

Yesterday, Monday the 19th of September, 2022, four of the five UK terrestrial television channels showed uninterrupted coverage of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. From 8 am until 5 pm BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV, and Channel 4’s programming was wholly dedicated to the procession, services, and eventual laying to rest of the coffin at Saint George’s chapel, Windsor.

At approximately 2:55 pm, ITV’s live coverage of the funeral was interrupted by a whispered, female voice which appeared to say “That death is irreversible, and the fact that she’s–“. The final word of the interruption was interpreted by some as “trapped“, by others as “travelling“. Twitter user @goulcher posted a clip of the strange TV interruption on the micro-blogging site at 4:19 pm.

There has already been plenty of speculation on Twitter and elsewhere as to the possible meanings and origins of the eerie interruption. The ghost of Princess Diana has been put forth as a possible culprit by some, although this seems to be (mostly) a tongue-in-cheek suggestion. It is, however, worth noting that Diana being alive and soon to return to the public sphere has very recently become a part of QAnon conspiracy theory. Messages like the one below were shared on Telegram, Reddit, Facebook, and elsewhere, as the rolling coverage of Royal Funeral went out live.

Others have suspected that the ghostly voice might have been the work of a broadcast intrusion prankster, along the lines of previous broadcast intrusions that have featured everyone from Max Headroom to the Galactic High Command.

On a less exciting level – and wholly at the other end of the explanation spectrum from ‘Diana’s ghost’ – plenty of people have put forth the theory that the interruption was nothing more than someone in the TV studio whose whispered words were accidentally picked up on a microphone during the live broadcast. The fact that the male presenter who can be heard on the clip seems to be aware of his words and those of the whispering woman overlapping does seem to bear this theory out. Furthermore, the same male presenter can be heard in the clip mentioning his fellow presenter Emily Morgan by name. This would suggest that Emily Morgan is about to go on air, adding her own commentary to the proceedings.

Although I have been unable to find the original broadcast online – with or without the interruption – on ITV’s own streaming service or YouTube channel, I did find the following quote on their website:

ITV News’ Correspondent Emily Morgan, who was on the A4 as the hearse went by, said: “As  it rounded the corner onto the A4 a hush descended.

“As it came past me there was a spontaneous eruption of clapping, people cheering. I don’t think anyone expected that to happen, it was a real outpouring of love and grief.

“There are still people standing here now. I think they’re finding it difficult to walk away, to accept that this moment, for them at least, is over.”

Given the wording of the interruption (“That death is irreversible, and the fact that she’s [travelling]”) it does seem possible, likely even, the words quoted on the ITV page are some kind of second draft of whatever was accidentally broadcast.

Another candidate for the explanation of an in-studio ‘hot mic’ is grief expert Julia Samuel, who some have noted was also on the broadcast talking about how to explain death to children, including that they know that the deceased loved one will not be returning (ie. that death is irreversible).

Whatever the (likely mundane) explanation, the specific choice of words, the fact that they were whispered, and the timing of their breaking through the live audio in such a eerie manner will still surely have left many people spooked, and will likely lead to some ongoing modern folklore about the ghostly voice that interrupted the Queen’s funeral broadcast.

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