Buckingham Palace tried to stop Elton John from performing at Princess Diana's funeral. Though his performance of 'Candle in the Wind' went on the be one of the most moving aspects of the somber occasion, it almost didn't happen. Newly released government documents released by the British national archives revealed Buckingham Palace's attempts to shut down the special moment.
The documents reveal senior members of the royal household objected to John's song because they considered the lyrics "too sentimental." As many fans of the iconic singer know, he wrote the song in memory of Marilyn Monroe following her passing. Also close, personal friends with Princess Diana, John and his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin reworked the lyrics to better reflect the loss of the People's Princess.
The Palace's objections were so strong that Westminster Abbey, where Princess Diana's services were held, kept a saxophonist on standby just in case John was not able to perform. The then-dean of Westminster Abbey personally urged the palace to reconsider their position, writing in a note that the emotional track captured the bereaved nation's heartbroken mood.
“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 Reverand Dr. Wesley Carr wrote to the royals. “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," he 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," he concluded.
Ultimately, the Palace allowed John to pay tribute to his friend with 'Candle in the Wind/Goodbye English Rose."