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HomeFact CheckHere's The Truth Behind Viral Images Of Burj Khalifa & Empire State...

Here’s The Truth Behind Viral Images Of Burj Khalifa & Empire State Building Lit Up In Tribute For the Queen

Tributes and condolences have been pouring in on social media platforms following the death of Queen Elizabeth II earlier this week. Several social media users shared her old pictures and videos highling her seven decades long journey as the Queen of Britain. Meanwhile many others shared visuals showing how the world was paying homage to the deceased Queen. In the same line, some social media users shared images of Burj Khalifa and Empire State Building claiming to show how the skyscrapers paid tribute to the British monarch. Newschecker found the claims to be untrue.

Claim 1: Burj Khalifa was lit up as Union Jack (national flag of the UK) as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

Several Facebook and Twitter users shared an image showing Burj Khalifa lit up as Union Jack, claiming that Dubai’s iconic building donned this avatar following the death of Queen Elizabeth II as a tribute to her.

Burj Khalifa
Screenshot of Tweet by @Sannisofia6
Screenshot of Facebook post by @1senkise

Links to such posts can be found here, here, here and here.

Also Read: Chants Of Om At ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Farewell’? No, Viral Video Is Over 10 Years Old

Fact Check/Verification

Newschecker conducted a reverse image search for the viral photograph of Burj Khalifa which led us to multiple reports from May 2017. One such report by Hello Magazine, dated May 24, 2017, featured images of world’s known structures and buildings decked up in the colours of Union Jack, including the viral photograph of Burj Khalifa. The report elaborated, “Major monuments around the world paid tribute to the victims of the Manchester Arena attack on Tuesday evening. Several, including the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – were illuminated with the Union Jack flag, while others were shrouded in darkness in mourning for the 22 people killed and 59 injured in the explosion following an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night.”

Screenshot of Hello Magazine website

In a report dated May 24, 2017, UAE’s Khaleej Times also featured a clipped version of the viral image, stating “Dubai’s Burj Khalifa lit up in the colours of Britain’s Union flag to express solidarity for the Manchester attack yesterday.”

Screenshot of Khaleej Times website

Multiple news outlets had featured social media posts carrying the viral image of Burj Khalifa lit up as Union Jack to express solidarity with the UK following the Manchester arena attack in May 2017. You can see such reports here, here and here.

After concluding that the viral image was around 5 years old and unrelated to Queen’s death, Newschecker continued our investigation to know whether Burj Khalifa was recently lit up as Union Jack to pay tribute to the late British Monarch or not. We conducted a keyword search for “Burj Khalifa Union Jack Queen,” “Burj Khalifa tribute to Queen, “ Dubai Burj Khalifa tribute to Queen,” on Google which did not yield any relevant result. However, the search led us to some reports from April 2020, stating that the skyscraper was lit up in Union Jack to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. Same can be seen here, here and here.

Furthermore, we scanned through the social media accounts associated with Burj Khalifa and did not find any recent image showing the building decked up as Union Jack to pay homage to the deceased Queen.

We could thus conclude that by the time of publishing this fact check, Burj Khalifa was not lit up as Union Jack to pay respects to Queen Elizabeth II. The viral image is from 2017.

Result: False


Claim 2: Empire State Building Displayed A Photo Of Young Queen Elizabeth II As A Mark Of Respect To The Deceased British Monarch

Senior reporter for Daily Mail Online, Tom Cotterill shared an image of New York’s Empire State Building- decked up in white and purple colours- displaying a black and white photograph of a young Queen Elizabeth. Captioned, “Wonderful tribute to Her Majesty the Queen by New York,” the post has been retweeted over 870 times, and has garnered 7.7k likes so far. 

Facebook users also shared the image.

Screenshot of Facebook post by Tin A Tin

Links to such posts can be found here, here and here.

Fact Check/Verification

A keyword search for “Empire State Building Queen Tribute” led us to a report by NBC New York, dated September 8, 2022, titled ‘Empire State Building Honors Queen Elizabeth II With Purple and Silver Light Tribute.’  The report carried a tweet by the official account of Empire State Building. Captioned “Tonight, our tower lights will shine in purple and sparkle in silver to honor the life and legacy of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II,” the tweet carried an image of the building where its upper part can be seen illuminated with the said colours.

We also found a 0:11-second video of the Empire State Building lit up in purple in silver, on the Twitter feed of its official account.

Multiple news outlets shared visuals of the Empire State Building illuminated in purple and silver colours to pay tribute to the Queen, however none of the images or videos showed the image of the Queen as seen in the viral photograph.

Following this, we scanned through the comment section of the tweet by @pn_tomcotterill and found a reply by user @BlackScarfMarc saying “Didn’t happen,” and carrying a screenshot of a post by Twitter user @CraigsBeds.

Screenshot of Tweet by @BlackScarfMarc

Notably, in a tweet dated September 9, 2022, @CraigsBeds had shared the viral photo with the caption, “Rest In Peace Queen Elizabeth … The Empire State Building colors were lit up last night in her honor … I added the image of her from her youth… ,” indicating that it has been photoshopped.

Screenshot of Tweet by @CraigsBeds.

Further, we looked up Craig’s verified Instagram account and found that the viral photograph was posted with the caption “We shall miss you!  Rest In Peace Queen Elizabeth ll .. “ Craig, who is a photographer, had clarified in the comment section, “the lights are real the image on the building taken from her youth I added as a tribute …”

Screenshot of Instagram post by @craigsbeds

We could thus conclude that though the Empire State Building was indeed lit up in white and silver colours to pay homage to the deceased British monarch, the photograph of her youth was digitally imposed on the same.

Result: Altered Photo

Sources

Report By Hello Magazine, Dated May 24, 2017
Report By Khaleej Times, Dated May 24, 2017
Tweet By @EmpireStateBldg, Dated September 9, 2022
Tweet By @CraigsBeds, Dated September 9, 2022


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Vasudha Beri
Vasudha Beri
Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.
Vasudha Beri
Vasudha Beri
Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

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