Tiananmen Square anniversary: Joke about Queen Elizabeth II dying blows up on Chinese social media

The viral hashtag reads, "the Queen died of illness".
The viral hashtag reads, "the Queen died of illness". Photo credit: Twitter/@CScottFCDO; Getty Images

A joke hashtag about Queen Elizabeth II dying has exploded on Chinese social media. 

The hashtag, which translated reads, "the Queen died of illness" was born after the UK embassy in China attempted to commemorate the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on Twitter-like app Weibo, ABC reports.

All references to the June 4 anniversary are censored on Chinese social media. In the week leading up to it, emojis that could be used to pay tribute such as the cake and candle were removed from the Weibo app. 

Despite this, the UK embassy account, which has 1.8 million followers, posted an image of a single candle without context on the Tiananmen Square anniversary. 

According to ABC, this photo prompted a flood of comments and posts with the hashtag "the Queen died of illness". 

Chinese social media trend website What's on Weibo says the hashtag was initiated in order to "justify" the UK embassy's post. 

"Thanks to the British Embassy in China for the reminder. May the Queen have a good journey," one Weibo user wrote in response to the post. 

"The British Embassy in China played petty tricks but now got the Queen involved. The Queen's passing has become a joke on the Chinese internet," said another.

According to ABC, the hashtag page has been viewed over 47 million times and Weibo users have come up with a bunch of comedic theories of what killed the Queen.

Some said her majesty had died from childbirth complications while others said it was due to the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Chinese Wikipedia was even edited to say the Queen died on June 4. 

The UK embassy's post quickly disappeared from Weibo. The deputy head of mission at the embassy Christina Scott said on Twitter it had been censored and taken down within 20 minutes.

"Today @ukinchina posted this on Chinese social media in memory of all who lost their lives in and near Tiananmen Square, 32 years ago," she wrote. 

"It was censored within 20 minutes." 

China has never provided a full account of the 1989 violence in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The death toll given by officials days later was about 300, most of them soldiers, but rights groups and witnesses say thousands of people may have perished.

On Friday police blocked off a Hong Kong park to prevent people from holding a candlelight vigil to remember the pro-democracy demonstrators killed by Chinese troops 32-years-ago.