An edited image of a billboard in London’s Piccadilly Square has gone viral on social media with the false claim that Queen Elizabeth II thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for sending COVID vaccines to the United Kingdom.
The original image, dating back to April 2020, contained a message of hope amid the coronavirus pandemic. It has been edited to include the text, “Thank you PM Modi for sending us COVID-19 vaccines. You’re a good boy.”
The image was shared by a Facebook user, Pawan Kumar, garnering over 1,000 likes. The post had been viewed about 1.2 million times, according to Facebook’s fact-checking tool, at the time of writing this article.
He shared the image with the caption, “In London, Queen Elizabeth II placed a billboard thanking Modi for helping England with the coronavirus vaccine. It is such a matter of pride for our country that even the British, who ruled India for 200 years, are taking help from us today, and are praising us. Thank you Modiji for making us proud today,” in Hindi.
Several people shared the image with similar captions on Twitter.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
A reverse image search led us to several websites for meme-templates that allowed users to change the text of the billboard with the Queen’s image, which had become a popular meme after the original billboard was put up in April 2020.
The original image, containing the text, “We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again,” attributed to, “Her Majesty The Queen” as a “Message to the Nation” was shared by BBC London on 8 April 2020.
We also found an image of the original billboard from a different angle on Getty Images, credited to news agency AFP’s photographer Glyn Kirk. The billboard was put up in the Piccadilly Square, Central London.
While the UK government had announced on 2 March that the country will receive COVID-19 vaccine from India, we did not find any news reports of billboards thanking PM Modi in London.
A UK government spokesperson had told Reuters that they have ordered 100 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, out of which 10 million doses will come from the Serum Institute of India.
Evidently, an old image of a billboard with the Queen’s message has been edited to appear as though it was put up to thank PM Modi for the COVID vaccines.