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Buckingham Palace Did Not Want Elton John to Perform at Princess Diana's Funeral

Buckingham Palace Did Not Want Elton John to Perform at Princess Diana's Funeral

Recently released government documents are giving an inside look at what happened behind the scenes of Elton John‘s performance of “Candle in the Wind” at Princess Diana‘s funeral in 1997.

According to documents newly released by the U.K. National Archives obtained by Sky News, Buckingham Palace was initially resistant to the performance, which featured the singer’s reimagined lyrics.

The Dean of Westminster ultimately sent a personal message to a senior member of the royal household to insist that the performance move forward.

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Elton‘s lyricist Bernie Taupin replaced some of the song’s original lyrics about Marilyn Monroe to reference Diana, switching “Goodbye Norma Jean” to “Goodbye England’s rose.”

The papers suggest that there were concerns about the updated lyrics being “too sentimental.”

“This is a crucial point in the service and we would urge boldness. It is where the unexpected happens and something of the modern world that the princess represented,” the Very Reverend Dr. Wesley Carr wrote in his message.

“I respectfully suggest that anything classical or choral (even a popular classic such as something by [Andrew] Lloyd Webber) is inappropriate,” he continued. “Better would be the enclosed song by Elton John (known to millions and his music was enjoyed by the princess), which would be powerful.”

“He has written new words to the tune which is being widely played and sung throughout the nation in memorial to Diana. It is all the time on the radio. Its use here would be imaginative and generous to the millions who are feeling personally bereaved: it is popular culture at its best,” he added. “If it were thought the words too sentimental (although that is by no means a bad thing given the national mood), they need not be printed — only sung.”

Westminster Abbey also had a saxophonist on standby in the event that the palace decided they didn’t want Elton to sing the song.

Elton ultimately did perform at the funeral and his rendition of “Candle in the Wind” became one of the most memorable moments from the event.

“There was a sense in which it was the biggest gig of my life — for four minutes, I was literally going to be the center of the world’s attention — but equally, it wasn’t an Elton John moment, it wasn’t about me at all,” he later said.

More recently, he supported Diana‘s son Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle in their fight against the British tabloids.

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Photos: Getty Images
Posted to: Elton John, Princess Diana

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