People in attendance at Princess Diana‘s funeral on September 6, 1997, and the millions watching at home will probably remember the occasion as a sentimental one. Folks who never even met Diana were literally crying in the streets as her coffin passed by. To see that scene live with her two very young kids walking behind the carriage was certainly heartbreaking.
For most people having Elton John sing at the service wasn’t what put them over the edge so to speak. Yet, in recently declassified documents it’s stated that The Royal Family was on the fence about letting Sir Elton sign at the funeral. The idea was that it could create a scene that was “too sentimental”.
The Royal Debate About Elton John’s Performance At Diana’s Funeral
According to recently uncovered letters, the Royal Family was ready to boycott Elton John from singing at the service. They even had a backup plan ready in the wings. According to reports, there was actually a saxophone player standing by at Westminster Abbey where the service took place, in case the royals decided to pull the plug on Elton John’s performance at the last minute. Ironically, it seems that it was the Dean of Westminster Abbey, Rev. Dr. Wesley Carr, who convinced the royals to allow Elton to perform.
Essentially saying that getting a normal choir to sing would be selling people short. Rev. Dr. Wesley Carr wrote to a royal family advisor saying,
“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 Weirdest Compromise To Get Elton John To Sing
In the letter that Rev. Dr. Wesley Carr sent to the Royal Family advisor, he mentions that Elton John’s songs would be powerful, imaginative, and generous.
While going on to say that the moment would essentially be a gift to the people who felt personally afflicted by the tragedy. The Dean of the Abbey, though, knew that words may have not been enough to be able to sway the Royal Family to allow Elton John to sign. So he came up with an awkward compromise. He suggested that Elton’s song not be printed on the service program for the funeral. A sneaky detail that may have been the key to getting the royal approval. It also provided Elton John and his team with an opportunity to set up a special tribute to Princess Diana.
The Princess Diana Version of Candle In The Wind
Since the song that Elton John was going to sing would not be printed in the program it gave him, and songwriter Bernie Taupin the opportunity to set up a subtle, but a memorable homage to Diana. As Taupin reworked the first line of the song Candle in the Wind. Changing it from “Goodbye Norma Jean,” to “Goodbye England’s rose.”
Norma Jean, by the way, was Marilyn Monroe’s given name. Her death was the original inspiration for the song. Fittingly the song was reworked to pay tribute to another major icon of the century. As far as the moment being too emotional, well each person can be entitled to their own opinion.