Fact check: BBC reported 28 million in United Kingdom watched Queen Elizabeth II's funeral

The claim: The BBC reported 5.1 billion people watched the queen’s funeral

Queen Elizabeth II’s Sept. 19 service marked the first time a British monarch’s funeral was televised, and some social media users claimed the historic occasion was witnessed by more than 5 billion people around the world.

“The BBC is reporting that 5.1 billion people tuned in to watch Queen Elizabeth II state funeral in London, that’s roughly 63.2% of the worlds population and the largest single event watched or streamed in history,” reads a Sept. 19 Facebook post that was shared more than 8,000 times in three days.

Other versions of the claim were shared widely across social media.

But the claim is inaccurate. While the BBC reported tens of millions of people tuned in to the funeral in the U.K., it did not offer global figures.

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USA TODAY reached out to users who shared the claim for comment.

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is placed on a gun carriage during her funeral service in Westminster Abbey in central London Monday Sept. 19, 2022.
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is placed on a gun carriage during her funeral service in Westminster Abbey in central London Monday Sept. 19, 2022.

Worldwide viewership figures have not been released

The BBC reported on Sept. 20 that a peak audience of around 28 million people in the U.K. tuned in to watch the service, while 32.5 million viewers watched at least three minutes of its coverage. The outlet did not offer a global viewership figure.

Reuters reported there is no standard industry measurement to determine global viewership, but that 11.4 million people in the U.S. also watched the funeral despite its early-morning start time.

USA TODAY found no evidence supporting the 5.1 billion figure from BBC or any other reputable source.

According to analysts cited by The Washington Post, it could very well be the most watched TV event in history.

More: Poignant moments at Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, from emotional royals to funeral wreath

A day after the viral post was shared, the false 5.1 billion claim was reiterated on BBC Radio Stoke, a local radio station serving England's Staffordshire and Cheshire counties, according to Full Fact, a U.K.-based fact-checking outlet.

But the accuracy of any claim is judged by the situation at the time the claim was made. At the time of this post on Sept. 19, we found no evidence any BBC outlet had reported the 5.1 billion figure. The figure could not be found on the BBC's website or social media accounts.

BBC did not respond to USA TODAY's request for comment.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the BBC reported 5.1 billion people watched the queen’s funeral. The outlet reported 28 million people in the U.K. watched the service but did not offer a global estimate. USA TODAY found no evidence supporting the 5.1 billion figure from BBC or any other reputable source.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: BBC reported 28 million in UK watched queen's funeral