While Elton John singing his updated version of “Candle in the Wind” at Princess Diana’s funeral back in 1997 is now iconic, it almost didn’t happen at all. It seems when the idea was first presented, the palace staff wanted to reject the idea for being “too sentimental.” There was said to be a saxophone player on backup to fill the spot, but they came around and changed their mind, noting it would be important to a public in mourning.
Candles And Caskets
After the iconic Princess Diana passed away tragically in a car crash in Paris, Elton John famously reworked his “Candle in the Wind” song (which was originally written for Marilyn Monroe) to make it more about the current tragedy the world was experiencing. The opening line “Goodbye Norma Jean” was tweaked into “Goodbye England’s Rose”, and the rest is history.
But the royal family didn’t think the song was a good fit at first. The then-Dean of Westminster Abbey, Reverend Dr. Wesley Carr, appealed to the royal, arguing the song would be “imaginative and generous” to the millions of people who felt “personally bereaved.”
The Legacy of the Song
It seems they quickly figured out that the song would fit well, not just for those that knew Lady Diana, but for those on the outside who were mourning as well. It was a song with worldly appeal written by a superstar who most of the world wholly respected. It was P.R at its finest, truth be told.
While there may have been some hesitation at first way back in 1997 when the tragedy unfolded, the song has gone on to become even more iconic after the fact, and it did help a lot of people process the loss. While some people may have seen the reworking of a song written about a completely different person as somewhat lazy or in poor taste, there is no denying its long-term effect and power.
The weirdest part is that all of this all feels like it unfolded just a few years ago for many when in actuality it’s now been 25 years. The song went on to help cement Diana’s legacy as a kind and progressive woman who just wanted to make the world a gentler place and seemingly did.