"To be at the first multiracial royal wedding in Britain — amazing," said the Grammy winner
After joining Harry at the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday, John spoke to CNN about how the May nuptials showed the evolution within the monarchy.
“It was very, very wonderful to be there,” John said. “To have a black gospel choir, a multiracial bride, a black cellist, who was wonderful, a preacher — it felt like a party, and it felt like progress had been made. Thank God, thank God.”
He added, “To be at the first multiracial royal wedding in Britain — amazing.”
John also reflected on the significant changes in the royal family just in recent decades, citing Princess Margaret‘s forbidden relationship with Group Captain Peter Townsend, which has been reenacted on Netflix’s The Crown.
“You go back and watch The Crown and things like that, and in the 1950s Princess Margaret wasn’t allowed to get married because [Townsend] was divorced. Look how far we have come in that respect,” he said.
Years ago, Harry marrying Meghan would have been unheard of for a variety of reasons: she’s biracial, divorced, an actress and American. As fans of The Crown know well, King Edward VIII gave up the throne after less than a year because his family (and Parliament) wouldn’t accept American Wallis Simpson, the woman he loved (and a two-time divorcée), as Queen.
In the musician’s eyes, Queen Elizabeth is largely to thank for the shift in acceptance.
“I think the Queen had a lot to do with it. I think she’s been magnificent,” John said. “It was a wonderful thing to be at.”
Not only was John a guest at the royal wedding, but he also performed at the lunchtime gathering, hosted by Queen Elizabeth at St. George’s Hall at Windsor Castle. A guest told PEOPLE the legendary musician sang — among other songs — his 1971 hit “Tiny Dancer,” dedicating the tune to the bride.
Harry asked John to perform at the reception himself, in recognition of the superstar’s personal connection to his family. John was close friends with Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, and famously performed a rendition of his song “Candle In the Wind” at her funeral in 1997.
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John’s husband David Furnish told CNN that love was at the center of the celebration.
“What was so inspiring, and it sounds corny, but, true love is what really shone through and that’s what everybody felt, the sincerity and the integrity of that true love on the day,” he said. “And it shows that institutions like the monarchy can evolve with the times.”