Elton John’s iconic Candle in the Wind performance at Diana’s funeral hardly happened

Sir Elton John’s tearful interpretation of ‘Candle in the Wind’ is remembered as the most heartbreaking part of Princess Dianas funeral in 1997.

But this crucial moment in history hardly happened, has recently released government documented revealed.

According to papers published by UK National Archives, the palace had pushed back against John’s performance due to concerns that the newly proposed texts 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 and changed the lyrics from ‘Goodbye Norma Jean’ to ‘Goodbye England’s rose’.

Concerned that the palace would 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 will encourage boldness. This is where the unexpected happens and something of the modern world that the princess represented,” wrote the very venerable Dr. Wesley Carr in his prayer.

“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 restored song during the funeral as his music was “enjoyed by the princess”.

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

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

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

“He has written new words to the tune, which is being played and sung throughout the nation in memory of Diana. It is constantly on the radio. Its use here would be imaginative and generous to the millions who feel personally left behind: it is popular culture at its best, “he added.

“If one thought the words were too sentimental (although in no way a bad thing given the national mood), they do not need to be printed – only sung.”

The drafts of the funeral sequence also revealed that John had originally planned to play ‘Your Song’, but it was noted as ‘Our Song’.

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

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

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“There was a feeling that it was the biggest concert of my life – for four minutes I was literally going to be the center of the world’s attention – but in the same way it was not an Elton John moment, it was not about me at all, “John said later of his performance.

John and Diana were close friends after meeting at Prince Andrews 21st birthday party in 1981, the singer remembered in his autobiography from 2019 Me.

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

“That night in 1981, she arrived at the ballroom and we clicked right away. We ended up pretending to dance Charleston while tooting over the weakness of the disco.”

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

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