According to files, the Dean of Westminster appealed personally to Buckingham Palace for Sir Elton John to perform at Princess Diana’s funeral.
According to The Very Rev Wesley Carr, it would have been “imaginative” and “generous” for millions of people who were “personally grieving”.
The service was performed by Sir Elton who was Diana’s friend.
However, papers found at the National Archives indicate that a backup plan existed.
Bernie Taupin, Sir Elton’s lyricist had just written the song “Candle in the Wind” about Marilyn Monroe. It now has new lyrics about Princess Diana. The song is now called England’s Rose.
Dean Wesley Carr, a member of the Royal Household wrote in a note that the song was being “always” played on the radio.
It was unorthodox, and yet the dean insisted on “boldness” as well as the inclusion of “something of the modern age that the princess represented”.
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The 31st August 1997 saw the death of Princess Diana in Paris in a crash involving a vehicle.
There was an extraordinary outpouring in public grief after her passing, when hundreds of thousands left bouquets at Kensington Palace.
Many felt angry at what they perceived as indifference from the Royal Family toward the princess after she divorced Prince Charles.
Dean Carr, who was involved in negotiations for the Princess Diana funeral between the palace & her family at the time, stated that it was the most significant thing he’d ever done.
This was an “unique opportunity” for the abbey, he said.
His files reveal that he thought Sir Elton was an important part of the combination.
Even though the abbey had placed a young pianist on standby for a moving solo, the dean saw this as a second-best chance.
He stated that, although the sentiments expressed by England’s Rose might not be appropriate for the circumstances, he was willing to suggest that these words are not included in the order of funeral services.
Dean Carr, who was killed in 2017, was described as fearless in his obituary. He told Lt Col Malcolm Ross (a high ranking member of the royal family) that he would be willing to discuss the importance of this suggestion by phone with anybody.
These files do not show if this occurred.
Lt Col Ross wrote later that he was unable to influence the choice of soloist, and had had to turn down opera singer Plácido Domingo when he offered to sing at the funeral.
The performance of Sir Elton was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the funeral. It was viewed by millions of people around the globe.
England’s Rose sold 33 million copies around the world.
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