Hours after Queen Elizabeth II’s death at the age of 96 was announced, Elton John, who enjoyed the closest relationship with the Royal Family of any music artiste, paid tribute at his concert in Toronto.
“We have the saddest news about the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth,” Elton said.
Further Elton John added, “She was an inspiring person to be around — I’ve been around her and she was fantastic. She led the country through some of our greatest and darkest moments with grace, decency and a genuine care and warmth.”
“I’m 75 — she’s been with me all my life and I feel very sad that she won’t be with me anymore. But I’m glad she’s at peace, and I’m glad she’s at rest, and she deserves it because she’s worked bloody hard,” Elton John continued as the audience cheered, reports ‘Variety’.
“I send my love to her family and her loved ones. She will be missed, but her spirit lives on and we celebrate her life tonight with music — okay?”
Elton John then launched into his 1974 hit, ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’, a song laden with meaning in this context, not least due to its echoing of the Queen Victoria-era saying, “The sun never sets on the British Empire”.
Canada has been a fully independent country since 1982 but was ruled by Britain for more than two centuries. It remains a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth as its monarch and head of state from 1952 until her death on Thursday.
The opening of John’s dialogue was similar to a tribute he posted on social media earlier in the day, but the closing was new..
John developed a close friendship with Lady Diana Spencer in the early 1980s that grew to include the Royal Family and continued after her death in 1997. He was knighted by the Queen on April 24, 1998 for his musical and commercial contributions to the UK, as well as his extensive charity work, particularly with AIDS research and financial support.
He paid tribute to Diana shortly after her death with the song “Candle in the Wind (Goodbye England’s Rose)”, a recasting of his and Bernie Taupin’s 1973 tribute to Marilyn Monroe.
He performed the song at her funeral and it was released as a single in September of 1997, with proceeds going to her charities. It became the biggest-selling single in both British and US history and topped the charts in multiple countries across the world, holding the No. 1 spot in the US for 14 weeks and winning a Grammy award.
John’s comment that she’d been with him all of his life was no understatement: She had been queen since he was 4 years old.