Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield have hit back at allegations that they were not in line to see the Queen lying in state at the ceremony – insisting they were only there as journalists.
The pair were heavily criticized after they were seen in Westminster Hall without the official queue last Friday morning.
But while the famous performing duo faced backlash from social media users for ‘skipping the queue’, the pair claimed they were there for the benefit of those unable to pay their respects in person.
During a pre-recorded statement shown on the ITV show, they said: “None of the broadcasters or journalists took anyone’s place in the queue and no one walked past the Queen.”
A Change.org petition calling for the This Morning duo to be axed has more than 20,000 signatures.
Organizer Laura Harrison said: “This is about a TV show that is toxic and these presenters have been given privileges that deprive others and degrade their own viewers.”
ITV program chiefs later said in a statement that the host had attended the filming of a segment of the show on Tuesday.
As This Morning returned to ITV after state funerals on Monday, the couple acknowledged the backlash but said they “respected” the rules set for the media.
During the special, Willoughby said in a voiceover: “Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists, we have been given official permission to enter the room.
“This was done solely to communicate the event to the millions of people in the UK who were unable to visit Westminster in person.
“The rules were that we would be escorted quickly around the edges to the platform at the back.
“In contrast, those paying their respects walked along the carpeted area next to the coffin and had time to pause.
“None of the broadcasters and journalists there took anyone’s place in the queue, and no one passed the Queen. Of course, we respected these rules.
“However, we understand that it could have come across as something else and therefore fully understand the reaction. Please keep in mind that we will never jump the queue.’
Earlier in a statement posted to Instagram on Saturday, This Morning said of the visit: “We asked Philip and Holly to film for this Tuesday’s programme.
“They didn’t jump the queue, they didn’t have VIP access and they didn’t walk past the recumbent queen, but instead they were there in a professional capacity as part of the global media to cover the event.”
A spokesman for the UK Parliament confirmed that they had granted media accreditation to the journalists “in order to cover the event for the millions of people in the UK and around the world who were unable to visit Westminster in person”.