Newly released papers have revealed that members of the Palace were opposed to Elton John performing at Princess Diana’s funeral.
According to government papers shared by the National Archives, Elton’s re-written version of Candle in the Wind was considered to be “too sentimental” by members of the royal household.
A solo saxophonist was even put on hold by Westminster Abbey in case the performance was rejected by the royals.
The papers show that the Very Rev Dr Wesley Carr, the Dean of Westminster at the time, was the one who managed to persuade those involved to let the performance go ahead, as he believed the song was an “imaginative and generous” gesture for the grieving public.
In a note to the royal household at the time, he wrote: “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.
“I respectfully suggest that anything classical or choral (even a popular classic such as something by Lloyd Webber) is inappropriate.
“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.”
The note, which Downing Street was also copied into, came in the wake of public outrage at the Royal Family’s apparent indifference in the days after Diana’s tragic death in Paris on 31 August 1997.
Dr Carr continued: “Its use here would be imaginative and generous to the millions who are feeling personally bereaved: it is popular culture at its best.
“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.
“I would be prepared to discuss the significance of this suggestion over the phone with anyone.”
In the days after Diana’s death, a first draft of the service had Elton down to perform Your Song – though this was misprinted as ‘Our Song’.
Elton’s performance went on to become one of the most widely recognised parts of the service and has since sold 33 million copies worldwide.
It is also the first single to ever be certified Diamond in the US in recognition of sales in excess of 10 million copies, as well as being the highest-selling single of all-time in the UK.