Prince Harry and Prince William’s Experience at Princess Diana’s Funeral ‘Was Absolutely Inhuman,’ According to Elton John

In his new memoir, titled Me, singer Elton John shares, among other stories, details of his friendship with Princess Diana over the years. They experienced some highs and lows, including a falling out and reconciliation. John also shares some insight into how Diana’s sons had an “absolutely inhuman” experience at her funeral.

Prince William Prince Harry at Princess Diana's funeral
Prince William and Prince Harry | Adam Butler – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

How Elton John and Princess Diana met

John and Princess Diana hit it off from the start, according to the singer, who recounts the moment they met in 1981. He recalls in his book, excerpts of which were published in the Daily Mail: “I first met Diana in 1981, just before her marriage to Prince Charles. It was at Prince Andrew’s 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle. The evening was completely surreal. The percussionist Ray Cooper and I were supposed to be providing the entertainment, but before we performed, there was a disco in the ballroom.”

He noted: “Because the Queen was there, and no one wanted to cause any offence to the royal sensibilities, the disco was turned down about as low as you could get without switching it off altogether. You could literally hear your feet moving around on the floor over the music.”

John continued: “Anyway, that night in 1981, she arrived in the ballroom and we immediately clicked. We ended up pretending to dance the Charleston while hooting at the disco’s feebleness.”

Knowing Diana personally, John could elaborate on what it was that made her so special, sharing: “She was blessed with an incredible social ease, an ability to make people feel totally comfortable in her company. Her kids have inherited it, Prince Harry in particular; he’s exactly the same as his mum, no interest in formality or grandeur.”

They had a falling out

Despite their close friendship, Princess Diana and John did face a challenging time in their relationship, as he explained: “She was a very dear friend for years, and then, completely unexpectedly, we fell out. The cause was a book Gianni Versace put together called Rock And Royalty, a collection of portraits by great photographers. The proceeds were going to the AIDS Foundation, and she agreed to write the foreword.”

“Then she got cold feet,” he wrote, believing that perhaps “Buckingham Palace didn’t like the idea of a member of the Royal Family having anything to do with a book that featured shots of naked guys with towels draped around them.” Princess Diana withdrew her forward.

John explained, “I wrote back to her, calling her out, telling her how much money she had cost the AIDS Foundation, reminding her that she had seen the book. The letter I got back was very formal and severe: ‘Dear Mr John…'”

He shared, “I was angry with her, but I was also worried. She seemed to be losing touch with all sorts of really close friends, who would be honest with her, and surrounding herself instead with people who told her what she wanted to hear.”

They finally reconnected when Versace was murdered, with Princess Diana reaching out to him and saying, “I’m so sorry. It was a silly falling-out. Let’s be friends.”

elton john princess diana funeral
Elton John | PA Images via Getty Images

Princess Diana’s funeral

When the news hit that Princess Diana had died, John was understandably shaken. He was asked to rewrite the lyrics of “Candle In The Wind” in Diana’s memory and sing it at the funeral.

He explained the experience of being “seated in the inner sanctum of the church, right where the Royal Family came in” and how he believed Prince William and Prince Harry were not treated well that somber day.

John wrote: “William and Harry looked completely shell-shocked. They were 15 and 12, and I thought the way they were treated that day was absolutely inhuman. They were forced to walk through the streets of London behind their mother’s coffin, told to show no emotion and look straight ahead. It was a horrendous way to treat two kids who’d just lost their mum.”

He found himself “really uncomfortable with the single’s longevity,” noting that “it almost felt like wallowing in her death, as if the mourning for her had got out of hand. I really didn’t think that was what Diana would have wanted.”

As a result, John said he “didn’t want to do anything to prolong it any further,” noting, “So when Oprah Winfrey asked me on her talk show to discuss the funeral, I said no.”

He noted: “I’ve always tried to avoid the topic with journalists. It wasn’t that I wanted to forget it — or her. I just wanted life to get back to some semblance of normality.”