A spoof news story about the Queen being given a new castle by the nation for her 90th birthday has seemingly reeled in every anti-royalist in Britain.
The Suffolk Gazette reported how Her Majesty was being gifted Framlingham Castle to use as a quiet country weekend retreat because Windsor Castle was getting a little too big for her needs.
But republicans and anti-austerity campaigners seized on the alleged present as a massive waste of cash at a time of austerity.
Had they looked a little closer at the story, they might have noticed several clues that all was not as it seemed.
Firstly, it was written by the Suffolk Gazette’s Royal Correspondent Jane Seymour, a name that any school child who paid any attention in history lessons would know. Secondly, the only local person quoted in the copy was potato farmer Maurice Piper. A half-baked character, perhaps?
And finally, the end of the story pointed out that the £17 million refurbishment costs would be paid for by a new tax on Londoners snapping up second homes in Suffolk, leaving locals unable to afford them.
That’s rich: Queen was allegedly gifted Framlingham Castle by the nation
A lively debate has ensued on the Suffolk Gazette Facebook page and on Twitter, with those who got the joke enjoying the angst of the many who didn’t – a good deal of them from Scotland! Twitter got cross…
WTF? How many more houses does this woman need?
Absolutely unbelievable. https://t.co/ZwHOcrqU7D
— Jamie Gosney (@jamiegosney) April 21, 2016
— James McLeary (@JamesMcLeary) April 21, 2016
And Facebook got angry, too..
Thankfully some less gullible readers were on hand to point out the truth…
But perhaps there is a serious conclusion to draw from all this – and that’s just how easy it is for otherwise intelligent people to get wound up because they had not properly read something published on the internet.
The Suffolk Gazette has a glorious history of fooling the nation. Eamonn Holmes famously read out one of the Gazette’s stories on Sky News on the day of David Bowie’s death, claiming Bowie sang to surprised diners in a Suffolk curry house just days before.
And a story about an old lady stuck in a public loo for four days
where she knitted a scarf to pass the time was picked up and run by newspapers around the world.