Bookmaker Coral has said it has stopped taking bets on the Queen announcing she will abdicate during her speech on Christmas Day.
Coral's PR team claims it took "a rush of bets around midday" which it said was "very unusual" and "instantly set alarm bells ringing".
It alleges that one bet of £200 was placed online, another of £100 was taken at the Liverpool Street branch in London and another number of smaller bets had been placed too - Coral said it had offered odds of 10-1.
We have taken no more than six bets as far as we're aware - it is possible there are further bets placed in shop[s] that we are not yet aware of, although this is highly unlikely - and were it to happen it would only cost a few thousand pounds, certainly less than £10,000.
Nicola McGeady, Coral
Coral said that it was not the volume of bets but rather the unusual nature of them that has led it to suspend the market, and although the Queen's speech is pre-recorded it said it would prefer to err on the side of caution for now.
When i100.co.uk called Coral's head office to ask for a quote on the bet, an operator said he could not find that bet in the system. When asked "do you have any bets available like that?" he said "no".
In a further call a different operator explained that the bet was "unusual" and he could not find the odds readily available and would have to get back to us after speaking to the company's traders.
Coral's PR manager Nicola McGeady explained that this confusion would simply be that the shops would not know the bet and that they would have to call the traders for it.
She then explained that the bets were all placed online. When questioned about the Liverpool Street branch she then clarified that one bet had been placed in the branch.
The web page where some of the bets were allegedly taken is no longer available because betting has been closed, according to McGeady.
When questioned if it was a PR stunt, she said:
No it's definitely not a PR stunt. We definitely did see a few bets. It's not something that we'd make up.
Nicola McGeady, Coral
A Royal source flatly denied the rumour when speaking to the Independent:
The Queen’s broadcast is actually a commonwealth broadcast – Tuvalu is the first nation to hear the broadcast, every nation receives it and it’s published at 3pm wherever it is broadcast.
In my knowledge there has never been an announcement made during the Queen’s Christmas message, ever.
So if the Queen was to announce her abdication in the pre-recorded speech it would effectively mean the end of her reign would officially be announced in Tuvalu rather than London...