Elton John, who had arguably the closest relationship with the Royal Family of any musician, paid tribute to the late queen at his concert in Toronto just hours after the news of her death at age 96 had been released.
The news of Queen Elizabeth’s departure is “the saddest news,” he remarked. She was a wonderful person to be around; I had the pleasure of spending time with her. She guided the country with dignity, compassion, and kindness through some of our most trying times.
I’ve had her at my side for 75 years; it’s a significant loss that she won’t be there for the rest of my life. Despite this, he said, “I’m delighted she’s at peace, and I’m glad she’s at rest, and she deserves it because she’s worked bloody hard.” The crowd applauded enthusiastically.
My heart goes out to everyone who cares about her. The music we play tonight is a tribute to her memory; she will be missed, but her legacy will endure.
He then began to sing his 1974 hit, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” which has special significance here because it alludes to a famous phrase from the time of Queen Victoria: “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” Despite being a sovereign nation since 1982, Canada was under British rule for over two centuries. Until her death on Thursday, Queen Elizabeth II served as the country’s monarch and head of state, keeping the country a member of the Commonwealth.
John’s opening remarks echoed a tribute he had made earlier in the day on social media, but his closing remarks were entirely original. After John and Lady Diana Spencer became close friends in the early 1980s, their friendship expanded to include the rest of the Royal Family and lasted until she died in 1997. On April 24, 1998, the Queen honored him with the title of “Sir” in recognition of his years of service to the community, especially in AIDS research funding and education.
Shortly after Diana’s passing, he rewrote and released “Candle in the Wind (Goodbye England’s Rose),” an ode to Marilyn Monroe written by him and Bernie Taupin in 1973. He sang it at her memorial service, and in September 1997, he issued a single of it with all sales going to her causes. It topped the charts in many nations worldwide, including the United States, where it stayed at the top for 14 weeks and earned a Grammy.
It was not an exaggeration for John to say that she had been by his side his whole life. Since he was four years old, she had ruled as a queen.