Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were accused of skipping the queue to see the Queen lying-in-state in Westminster Hall. ITV was forced to address the issue in a statement released on its Instagram page before the presenters defended themselves on Tuesday’s edition of This Morning. However, it’s been reported ITV are concerned Holly will quit This Morning because of the backlash.
A source explained: “Philip and Holly are dumbstruck at the level of anger they’ve received in the past few days. They felt ITV should have made it clearer, right away, that it was part of a broadcast.
“When they started being bombarded with messages via social media they were simply stunned. They’ve been left astonished at the way the whole thing has mushroomed.
“That’s the main reason they wanted something to be said on Saturday [when This Morning issued a statement] and why they were insistent the show needed to address it head-on on Tuesday.
“Holly, in particular, has been left totally distraught by this. She’s been in floods of tears at some of the things she’s been called and of the behaviour she’s been accused of.”
“She’d never jump a queue or behave in that way and is heartbroken that people think she would,” the source told MailOnline.
“Producers and staff at This Morning are rallying round. They are a close-knit team but there is a concern at how it has impacted on Holly and has left many wondering if it’s pushed her close to the exit.”
After pictures emerged of the presenters in Westminster Hall, a petition demanding the duo be sacked received thousands of signatures and as of Tuesday, more than 18,000 people have signed it.
Meanwhile, David Beckham and Susanna Reid have been praised for waiting their turn in the queue.
An ITV spokesperson told Expess.co.uk: “This Morning had press accreditation and like other media, Phillip and Holly were escorted to work from the press gallery by government staff. They did not file past The Queen’s coffin.
“They were there alongside a host of other broadcasters and national press outlets for an item that will be broadcast on Tuesday’s show. Any allegations of improper behaviour are categorically untrue.”
On Tuesday, Holly explained why she and Phillip observed the Queen lying-in-state in a report.
In a voiceover, she said: “Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists, we were given official permission to access the hall.
“It was strictly for the purposes of reporting on the event for millions of people in the UK who haven’t been able to visit Westminster in person.
“The rules were we would be quickly escorted around the edges to a platform at the back.”
“In contrast, those paying respects walked around a carpeted area beside the coffin and were given time to pause.
“None of the journalists or broadcasters there took anyone’s place in the queue and no one passed by the Queen.”
“We, of course, respected those rules, however, we realise it may have looked like something else,” she added.
“Therefore, (we) totally understand the reaction. Please know, that we would never jump a queue.”
This Morning had previously addressed the backlash in a statement posted on its Instagram page.
It read: “Hello everyone, we would like to clarify something. We asked Phillip and Holly to be part of a film for this Tuesday’s programme.
“They did not jump the queue, have VIP access or file past the Queen lying in state – but instead were there in a professional capacity as part of the world’s media to report on the event.”
This Morning airs on ITV on weekdays at 10am.