Documents show palace did not want Elton John to sing at Princess Diana's funeral

Documents show palace did not want Elton John to sing at Princess Diana's funeral

NEWLY RELEASED documents by the National Archives in the UK has shown that there was resistance in the royal family to Elton John singing at Princess Diana's funeral.

John's performance of his newly re-written Candle In The Wind, is one of the most memorable parts of the service.

However, the documents show that there were concern that the lyrics were "too sentimental," leading to the Dean of Westminster sending a personal plea to Buckingham Palace in 1997 in an effort to get Elton John to perform at the service.

Reverend Dr Wesley Carr sent a fax to Lt Colonel Malcolm Ross of Buckingham Palace, saying the choice of song and singer was a "crucial point in the service".

"It is where the unexpected happens and something of the modern world that the Princess represented. I would 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 (Lyrics of "Your song" were at the end of the fax) by Elton John (known to millions and his music was enjoyed by the Princess), which would be powerful".

He then mentioned the new song that had already hit the airwaves.

"He has written new words to a tune which is being widely played and sung throughout the nation in memoriam of Diana. It is on 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.

"If it were thought the words were 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."

The alternative of a saxophone solo by a young musician was also suggested as the second best choice.

The Dean's choice was selected, with the track going on to sell 33 million copies around the world.

Downing Street had also been copied into the message, but according to the Archives, there is no record of a reply.

In the notes, his music is described as "a different style of music, popular and associated with the princess".

Other documents released also show how the state and individuals reacted to the news of Diana's death.

British Ambassador in Paris, Sir Michael Jay, was the first British person to be told of her death in a Paris hospital at four in the morning.

The ambassador wrote:

"The French authorities alerted this embassy at about 01.30 local time on 31 August to the car accident involving Diana Princess of Wales, and Mr al-Fayed. My wife and I went immediately to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, and remained there through the night. The French interior minister, Jean-Pierre Chevenement, visibly moved, was already at the hospital...."

"He returned around 4am, took my wife and me aside, and told us the Princess of Wales was dead. He was visibly moved."

The ambassador and his staff then engaged in a round of phone calls to royal residences, Downing Street and the British Foreign Office to confirm the news.

Prince Charles and Diana's two sisters arrived by 5pm that evening and visited Diana's remains in the company of President Jacques Chirac, before departing France at 6.30pm with the coffin, draped in the royal standard, aboard an RAF plane.