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  • Rachel Burchfield

Rocketman and England’s Rose

This photo will forever get to me.

It is of Diana and one of her dearest friends, Elton John, at fashion designer Gianni Versace’s funeral in Milan. Versace was brutally gunned down on his front steps on July 15, 1997; at his funeral, Diana, always the comforter-in-chief, consoled a weeping Elton.

And in six weeks, she was dead.

A Paris car crash took her life at 36 on August 31, 1997. For context’s sake, both Kate and Meghan are currently 37.

Tonight, I’m going to see Rocketman, the biopic about Elton John. As I woke up this morning, this photo was on my mind; a representation of a beautiful friendship, a representation of what Diana meant to so many.

At her funeral on September 6, 1997, Elton performed. You can watch the video here. He and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin rewrote their 1974 hit “Candle in the Wind” to be about the princess. Originally written about Marilyn Monroe, after Diana died so suddenly and tragically, Elton wanted to do something – anything – to memorialize his friend. So, in the hallowed walls of Westminster Abbey, he performed “Candle in the Wind 1997” for the first and only time; he said after he did it once he would never – could never – do it again, and he has kept his word. He released the single the next week, and all of the global proceeds went to the charities that Diana supported. It became the second highest-selling single of all time in the Guinness Book of World Records, second only to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”

Today, I celebrate the Rocketman and his deep, deep friendship with the People’s Princess and celebrate his words about her:

Goodbye, England’s rose

May you ever grow in our hearts

You were the grace that placed itself

Where lives were torn apart

You called out to our country

And you whispered to those in pain

Now you belong to heaven

And the stars spell out your name…

Your candle’s burned out long before

Your legend ever will

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