Newly released government documents show what went on behind the scenes of Elton John’s famous performance of “Candle in the Wind” at Princess Diana’s funeral.
It appears Buckingham Palace didn’t like the performance of the song with the singer’s new lyrics, according to Royals obtained by Sky News. However, the Dean of Westminster allowed the performance to go on.
Elton’s lyricist Bernie Taupin had rewritten the song, which was about Marilyn Monroe, with new lyrics about Princess Diana. Instead of “Goodbye Norma Jean” — Monroe’s legal name — the lyrics were changed to “Goodbye England’s rose,” to honor the late princess. According to the government papers, it appears there were concerns that the new lyrics to the song were “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.
“I respectfully suggest that anything classical or choral 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 put a saxophonist on standby to play the song in case the palace refused John’s performance.
Furthermore, a first draft of the funeral service had the iconic musician noted as performing “Your Song,” although it was listed as “Our Song.”