When Elton John heard news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death in the U.K., he didn’t cancel his Thursday show in Canada. Instead, the singer dedicated a performance of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” to the royal — and eulogized her before a crowd.
“She was an inspiring presence to be around,” John told his audience at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, as reported by Billboard. “She led the country through some of our greatest and darkest moments with grace, decency and a genuine, caring 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. She’s worked bloody hard. I send my love to her family and her loved ones, and she will be missed. But her spirit lives on, and we celebrate her life tonight with music.”
John, who is currently in the midst of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, earlier paid tribute to the queen on Instagram. He wrote he was “deeply saddened to hear the news” and that the queen “has been a huge part of my life from childhood to this day, and I will miss her dearly.”
This wasn’t the first time that John dedicated a musical performance to a member of the British royal family. He performed a version of “Candle in the Wind” at the 1997 funeral of Princess Diana, a dear friend.
The “Rocket Man” singer also famously chronicled witnessing Elizabeth slap Viscount Linley, her nephew.
In the 2019 memoir “Me,” John recalled watching “her approach Viscount Linley and ask him to look in on his sister, who’d been taken ill and had retired to her room.”
“When he repeatedly tried to fob her off, the Queen lightly slapped him across the face, saying ‘Don’t’ — SLAP — ‘argue’ — SLAP — ‘with’ — SLAP — ‘me’ — SLAP — ‘I’ — SLAP — ‘am’ — SLAP — ‘THE QUEEN!’” the singer recounted.
John became the first openly gay musician to be knighted by Elizabeth when he received the honor in 1998 for his philanthropic and artistic work. He has met with several members of the royal family over the years.
Elizabeth died Thursday at her Scottish residence of Balmoral Castle. She was 96.