Morning Anchors' Apology for Skipping in Line to Mourn Queen Elizabeth Makes Things Worse

ITV presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were accused of skipping the line to see Queen Elizabeth II lying in state at Westminster Hall on Sept. 16. The broadcaster has denied that its This Morning stars did anything wrong, but that hasn't stopped the "queuegate" scandal. One petition asking ITV to fire them has reached over 75,000 signatures.

The scandal began on social media, where people began accusing the longtime morning show anchors of cutting the line to view the Queen's casket. Some compared them unfavorably to David Beckham, who refused to use his fame to skip the line and waited over 13 hours to pay his respects. The Mail on Sunday reported that Schofield and Willoughby did not even have the proper accreditation to report from Westminster Hall, so they used the names of two production team members who accompanied them. The outlet also shared a screenshot of a since-deleted tweet from someone who claimed her disabled mother was moved out of the way so Willoughby and Schofield could get the shot they needed for This Morning.

ITV later issued a statement, insisting Willoughby and Schofield were there to report from the scene. "They followed all restrictions and guidelines and attended the media area, entering via the media center door, in a professional capacity alongside many other broadcasters and media," the statement read, reports The Guardian. "They neither jumped the queue nor took anyone's place in the queue. We asked them to attend and Holly and Phillip continue to have our full support."

The broadcaster also said the two were properly accredited. "Phillip and Holly had full accreditation which was organized by the This Morning production team. Any claims otherwise are untrue," ITV said.

Willoughby and Schofield also read a prepared apology statement during the Sept. 20 broadcast of This Morning. "Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists, we were given special permission to access the hall. It was strictly for the purpose of reporting on the event for millions of people in the UK who haven't been able to visit Westminster in person," Willoughby said. "None of the broadcasters and journalists there took anyone's place in the queue. We of course respected those rules. However, we realized it may have looked like something else and therefore totally understand the reaction. Please know we would never jump the queue."

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Since the apology didn't suddenly stop the scandal in its tracks, a source told MailOnline on Sept. 22 that it "spectacularly backfired" for ITV. "'Initially Holly and Phillip were prepared to say sorry if they'd upset anyone as they both just desperately want to draw a line under the affair. But they were advised strongly not to go down that road of saying sorry," the source claimed.

Meanwhile, there have also been reports that ITV executives are worried about Willoughby and Schofield's safety. Sources told The Mirror on Sept. 21 that executives have "real and serious" concerns about the "relentless" rolling they face. Both anchors have reportedly felt "reassured" by ITV's support and Willoughby is not planning to quit.