Listen and read the transcript of the 2011 interview on CNN’s Piers Morgan where George Michael revealed the song he recorded for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding, why he chose it and his relationship with Princess Diana.
PM: This is Piers Morgan Tonight (music)
Good evening. The royal wedding, perhaps the wedding of the century is just two weeks away. And there was a rehearsal today at Westminster Abbey in London with bride-to-be Kate Middleton, her bridesmaids, the pageboys and Prince Harry all in attendance. William stayed in Wales with his Royal Air Force unit. But we have our own wedding exclusive tonight. The world premier of a new song that George Michael has recorded as a gift for the royal couple. And George joins me now to explain what this is all about.
George, tell me all about this song. What gave you the idea for this?
GM: Well it’s actually very, very.. well the idea came to me last week actually. About a week ago. That I should.. that I should perhaps kind of express my happiness at this marriage in a way, publicly you know. It was a very beautiful summers.. well it wasn’t summers day but it was an April day that just happened to be like summer here in London and I.. I was twittering and kind of got carried away, and decided I was gonna make them a new track. Give everybody on Twitter and William and Kate a new track by Friday so.. so I’ve had a very busy week.
And the strange thing about this song actually, considering I think it’s probably the best two days work I’ve ever done in my life. Or two or three days work, is that.. when I was a child I dreamt of singing this song. In my imagination my idea of fame at the time was the school assembly hall – I was about twelve – and I had this.. this record, this Stevie Wonder song. I used to dream of singing it in the school assembly hall. But I guess, this is slightly bigger.. bigger deal than that.
PM: We’re gonna reveal the name of the song a little later when we actually play it for the first time in the world. It’s very exciting. I can give a little hint that I wooed my wife with this song and Barack Obama wooed Michelle Obama with this song. And they played it at their wedding. So you have chosen an unbelievably romantic, historic song for this George.
GM: Well I take the compliment in terms of Obama (laughs) and I hope your wife doesn’t blame me, for you guys getting together.
PM: Wanna talk to you George about your relationship with the royal family. Because I obviously used to run several newspapers in Britain and during that time, you and Diana were known to be good friends and you had lots of fun times with her. Tell me about that.
GM: Well I mean, we had a lot of.. we spent a lot of time together as friends and quite often, it would be just the two of us and she’d always talk about how much she missed the boys. And how she kind of had her reservations about doing what her parents had done, and sending them to boarding school. But you know, of course they had.. it’s not, you know.. it all very well – that she loved to take them to places like Marks and Spencer and make sure they queued, and make sure they understood that other people were just as important as them. And.. which is very typical of her. But I think she understood that to prepare for a royal future, you’re not really gonna be.. you’re not really gonna make it, if your education is down at the local comprehensive, you know. So I think the whole boarding thing, she found very difficult but was absolutely l think, a fantastic mother and I think.. you know, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Charles must have done a lot right in the years since she died. Because how else would those two boys have survived so amazingly well, you know. I think they must have a great father as well as having had a great mother. Although I don’t know Charles, you know.
PM: Yeah, I’ve met Charles a few times. I completely agree. I think that they’ve got bits of both their parents and they.. and they.. I think Charles and Diana – if she was looking down – would be very proud on the way they’ve turned out. What was interesting to me, George, is l remember, unless I’m mistaken, that you were once invited at one of these palace private functions to sing for Prince William and you turned him down.
GM: Yeah I did, I know. There was a day that I would’ve been taken to the tower for that, wasn’t there? I told people on Twitter last week that I was going to the tower – that it was, you know, first left to the lights after Morrisons and over the bridge. And I actually.. the thing is; it was a very, very awful thing to have to do, to say no to him because he’s such a lovely man.. I think he was such a lovely kid, you know. But the fact was, I was at a Christmas party that Diana invited me to at Kensington Palace. And the only other person I knew there was Elton. And William came up to me.. the two of them came up to me. But William asked me and he said, would it be okay if you sang a song, and maybe Uncle Elton could play the piano? And I was just.. I just can’t deal with singing in front of small crowds, so I had to say no. And it was, you know.. it was excruciating. He was very polite about it. But I was just; I can’t believe I’ve? just said no to probably, the future king of England. But I really was too embarrassed to sing in front of strangers, you know. But I remember that night very, very well.
PM: And George.. I mean, have you had any contact with the palace in relation to this song that you’ve done?
GM: Only through a mutual friend who gave me.. I gave him the name of the song that I was going to sing and asked him at least to run it by them. Because if I was going to make a present, a wedding gift of that, I thought, you know, there’s no point if it’s a song they don’t like. So I ran the song by them. And while I was doing the vocal the other day, I got a text from my.. our mutual friend who basically said they loved the song and that they’d be happy for you to go ahead with it. So.. and also, the main thing about doing the song as a gift for them – it’s not just a gift for them, it’s a gift that they will be able to hopefully turn into many, many donations for the royal charity – the royalweddingcharityfund.org that is, you know.. which is where they’ve asked people to give money, rather than send presents of any description. I don’t know if that includes all the people at the actual wedding. I don’t know if they’ve given up their toasters and their, you know, their.. the wedding list, as it were, but it seems very generously that they have, yeah.
So, anyway, I would really like for any of my fans – or anybody who really enjoys this track.. if they’re gonna download it for free, which is absolutely what I want them to do, I would love them to go to Kate and William’s charity site and make a donation. You know, if they’re genuinely happy for these two people, which I think a lot of people are, you know.
PM: George, obviously the whole world will be watching this wedding in a couple of weeks. What would you think it means for Britain, and indeed for the royal family that they have such global attention?
GM: I think.. I think it.. well, there are two things about this wedding. I think 1) it kind of reaffirms that people have no real intention of trying to get rid of them, which is great. And the other thing is, I think, it really kind of.. it really shows how romantic we still are. I mean, especially in such a dreadful time. You know there are so many terrible things going on at the moment. So many people struggling in this country and many other countries. But the idea of two four-day holidays – ‘cause you have to understand, if you don’t live in England, that we have two four-day holidays with three days of work in between, just about to happen in England – which has never happened, I think Piers, in my history. What about you? What about you?
GM: Do you remember a time… I just think.. I think…
GM: …people are gonna go crazy. I really do. I can think of a lot of people who’ll be taking three days off in a couple of weeks time.
PM: Tell me George, obviously you knew Diana better than many people. What do you think she would have made of Kate, who obviously she never got the chance to meet?
GM: Ah, I think she probably would’ve thought there was no woman good enough for her son, probably like most women. But I think she probably would’ve loved her, wouldn’t she?
PM: Yeah, I think so. She seems a very sweet girl, doesn’t she.
GM: Yeah, I think she seems very sweet. And she’s also a complete.. she’s a cracker, isn’t she. She’s great looking, she’s great looking. I think the boy done well.
PM: I didn’t know you notice things like that, George.
GM: Of course not, of course not (they laugh)
PM: We’re gonna put at the end of the show the details exactly – how everyone watching, and your fans back in England in particular – can listen to the song and then hopefully make donations to the charity. It obviously means a lot to you that you’ve done this. I’m sure it will to William and Kate. I mean, what kind of message would you give to the pair of them on the big day when it comes up?
GM: Oh, I think they should.. I don’t think they need any advice from me, do you? (laughing). I think the message I would give is that I’m just incredibly happy for both of them. And more than anything, you know, there was a kind of.. I have quite an emotional attachment to what’s going on here because I felt so bad for those boys when she passed away. And having experienced losing my mother about three or four months before that – that day was very, very strange for me. And also, you know, when I think of what.. the devastation of losing my mother, the idea of going through that, when you’re not even into your teens or your barely into your teens is just.. I just.. I just can’t.. Words can’t describe how much admiration I have for the way that they’ve both coped with it. And especially when, you know, the media has made it so much more difficult for them. I’m just incredibly happy for.. incredibly happy for William, incredibly happy for his partner – and I’m absolutely sure that Diana would have loved the whole thing, you know.
And I really hope that she would love this track. I have a feeling, she would’ve done. She was a big fan and she had a copy of Older – which is obviously an album about bereavement – about four or five months before it went out into the public eye, and she loved it. And I did once see a documentary where William was playing that album, which makes me think that he found it comforting. And it was an album about bereavement. So I was very touched by that.
The whole thing has kind of different levels of meaning for me. And I’m just incredibly happy that they’re letting me actually, you know, have some part of the benefit site, the charity site, you know. Or at least they’re letting me share some of the attention for this amazing day, in a way to raise money, you know, which is great.
PM: I’m back now with George Michael for the world premiere of the song that he’s recorded especially for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. George, you went to Twitter to ask your fans to suggest a song that they could come up with. Have you based your final decision on a suggestion that came that way?
GM: Well, no to be perfect.. to be totally truthful – which I tend to like to be – I had this idea initially, but I thought one.. I thought that maybe they wouldn’t like the idea, so I wanted something else as.. because I hadn’t recorded anything yet. And it was a matter of making a decision in the last couple of days. So I thought if anyone comes up with any great ideas and, by any chance, Kate and William don’t like the song, then I’d have some other ideas. But I think this one was the perfect one. So actually I have to say this was my idea. Sorry, Twitter.
PM: And we can put everyone out of their suspense now, George. So tell me what the song is.
GM: The song is called You and I. It was recorded in 1972 and written in 1972 by the wonderful Mr. Stevie Wonder, who has just this evening actually waived the rights until way after the wedding. So that’s great news. It’s all free. So you can download it to your heart’s content.
PM: People can get on.. on to the Piers Morgan Tonight website. They can see details of how to get to your website, George Michael.com and also to the royal website itself, where they can make a charitable donation. And the more the merrier. I think it’s a great cause, George, it’s a great idea.
GM: That’s the important bit!
PM: I think it’s entirely in keeping.. it’s a beautiful song, George. I am thrilled that you’ve given us this global scoop. And we are now going to play You and I by George Michael. Thank you very much, George.
- George Michael: Why I Quit Drugs (Event Magazine, 2014)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael’s Interview on Magic FM Radio (2007)
- George Michael Gets the Last Word (Q Magazine, 2014)
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)