Originally created 12/11/97

Charity receives large check from sales of Diana song



LONDON - Elton John gave a $32 million check to Princess Diana's memorial fund today - the first installment from the sale of "Candle in the Wind," the hit song he reworked in her honor.

Diana's sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, a trustee of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, accepted the check. She said it more than doubled the amount now in the fund.

"We are both touched and overwhelmed by the scale of the response to Elton John's single from the very many people around the world who have bought it," she said in a statement.

The fund, set up after Diana's death in a Paris car crash on Aug. 31, will channel the money to her favorite charities.

John moved many mourners to tears when he sang "Candle in the Wind" at Diana's funeral in Westminster Abbey on Sept. 6. It went on to become the world's biggest-selling single recording with more than 35 million copies purchased.

News reports said the single ultimately could raise more than $160 million.

John handed the check to the fund's trustees at London's Kensington Palace, where the princess had an apartment.

The song, rewritten from the 1973 song dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, capped a 30-year musical partnership between John and lyricist Bernie Taupin.

Taupin announced earlier this month that he has decided to sell the original and revised manuscripts of the lyrics at a special charity auction on behalf of the memorial fund.

John has said he will never perform the song live again, unless Diana's teen-aged sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, request it.