According to government papers from the U.K.’s National Archives, Elton John‘s emotional and beloved performance of his single, “Candle In The Wind,” at Diana, Princess of Wales’ funeral in 1997 almost didn’t happen.
The Very Reverend Dr. Wesley Carr, Dean of Westminster at the time, persuaded the family to let the performance go ahead as an “imaginative and generous” gesture to the grieving nation and world at large.
“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,” he wrote in a note to the royal household. “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.”
John would indeed go on to perform “Candle In the Wind 1997,” also known as “Goodbye England’s Rose.” The updated version of his 1973 hit has since remained John’s longest running number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and one of his most remembered live performances.