Elton John’s iconic Candle in the Wind performance at Diana’s funeral almost didn’t happen

Sir Elton John’s The poignant rendition of ‘Candle in the Wind’ is remembered as the most heartbreaking part of Princess Diana funeral in 1997.

Yet this pivotal moment in history hardly happened, the recently released government revealed.

According to documents published by the National Archives of the United Kingdom, the palace had rejected John’s performance amid concerns that the newly imagined lyrics would be “too sentimental.”

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Sir Elton John sings “Candle In The Wind” at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, on September 6, 1997. (WireImage)

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John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin had rewritten the song, which was originally about Marilyn Monroe, to be about the late Princess Diana, changing the lyrics from “Goodbye Norma Jean” to “Goodbye England’s rose.”

When there were concerns that the palace might reject John’s offer to play “Candle in the Wind,” the dean of Westminster sent a personal letter to a high-ranking member of the royal family, convincing them to allow the performance.

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

“I respectfully suggest that anything classical or choral (even a popular classic like something by Lloyd Webber) is inappropriate.”

The dean of Westminster urged the royal family to allow John’s reimagined song during the funeral, as his music was “enjoyed by the princess.”

Westminster Abbey put a saxophonist on hold to play John’s song if the palace deemed the lyrics “too sentimental” for the monument, documents show.

Funeral of Prince Harry Diana
Prince Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles at Diana’s funeral. (AP)

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“Better would be the accompanying song by Elton John (known to millions and its music was enjoyed by the princess), which would be powerful,” the message continued.

“He has written new words for the tune that is being played and sung across the country in memory of Diana. It is on the radio all the time. Its use here would be imaginative and generous to the millions who feel personally afflicted: it is the culture. popular at its finest, “he added.

“If the words were thought to be too sentimental (though that’s by no means a bad thing given the national mood), they don’t need to be printed, just sung.”

Drafts of the funeral service order also revealed that John had originally planned to perform ‘Your Song’, however it was noted as ‘Our Song’.

The British musician’s iconic rendition of ‘Candle in the Wind’ became the most memorable part of Diana’s funeral in 1997.

Diana, Princess of Wales, in Hong Kong on November 8, 1989. (Kent Gavin / Getty)

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“In a sense, it was the biggest concert of my life; for four minutes, it was literally going to be the center of attention in the world, but still, it wasn’t an Elton John moment, it wasn’t about me at all,” John later said of his performance.

John and Diana were close friends after meeting at Prince Andrew’s 21.S t birthday party in 1981, the singer recalled in his 2019 autobiography Me.

“She was blessed with incredible social ease, the ability to make people feel totally comfortable in her company,” John said in the book.

“That night in 1981, she came to the ballroom and we immediately clicked. We ended up pretending to dance the Charleston while howling at the disco’s weakness.”

John wrote that the Princess of Wales was “fabulous company, the best dinner guest, incredibly intrusive, a real gossip: you could ask her anything and she would tell you.”

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