Fact Check-Debunking claims about disappeared school children in 1964 in British Columbia, Canada

Around the time of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, social media users re-shared posts which falsely claim that in 1964 Queen Elizabeth took 10 children from Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia, Canada on a picnic and the children were never seen again. The monarch did not visit Kamloops in 1964 and Reuters found no credible reports relating to these claims, which seemingly stem from a conspiracy theorist.

Examples of posts making this claim can be seen here and here .

Kamloops Residential School was one of around 130 now defunct residential schools in Canada, typically run by Christian churches from the 1840s to the 1990s (here , here). Indigenous children as young as five years old were removed from their families and forced to attend the schools, where many children say they suffered horrific physical abuse, rape, malnutrition and other atrocities (here). Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Canadian leaders have apologized for the schools and compensation has been paid to thousands of indigenous people who were affected (here , here , here).

The claim in the social media posts circulated in May 2020, and was debunked by fact checkers Check Your Fact and Lead Stories at the time (here , here).

In 2020 the claims were linked to an article on a website, now unavailable, which claimed that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were found guilty in the disappearance of the children by the “International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State”, saying an order to arrest Elizabeth was issued by the “International Common Law Court of Justice in Brussels”.

The “International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State” and “International Common Law Court of Justice” are not legally recognized governing bodies. Both seem to be inventions of Kevin Annett (here , here), a former pastor who was removed from his ministry in 1997 for spreading conspiracy theories, local news reports say (here).

The article also mentions an alleged witness to the crime, William Combes, whose purported video statement can be seen online. No proof or sources are provided to support the claims in the statement. The statement alleges the incident happened in September 1964 when the Queen was not in Canada (here , here , here).

The Queen did visit Canada in October 1964 for the Centenary of the Confederation Conferences but she went to the east of the country, visiting Ottawa (Ontario), Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island and Quebec City in Quebec, not to British Columbia or the Kamloops Residential School (here , here , here , here).

Elizabeth did visit the city of Kamloops in 1959 and 1983 (here). The 1983 visit was after the Kamloops Residential School closed in 1977 (here). Reuters found no evidence of the alleged picnic having taken place during the 1959 visit.

Reuters found no credible reports about the claims in the social media posts in 1964, 1959 or any other year.


False. There is no evidence to support these claims against Queen Elizabeth, which seem to have stemmed from a former pastor in the United Church who was removed from the ministry in 1997 for spreading conspiracy theories.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .