Elton John Presents Diana Check To Fund

December 10 [14:00 EDT] -- Elton John has presented the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund with a check for 20 million British pounds -- approximately $32 million in U.S. funds -- and that's just the first installment.

The monies are being generated by the massive sales of "Candle in the Wind '97" which has so far sold 33 million copies. It took just five weeks to surpass the 30 million in sales generated by Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" over the course of 50 years, according to England's PA News.

The check was presented to Lady Sarah Corquodale, Diana's sister, and other trustees at Kensington Palace. Neither John nor Lady Sarah spoke to the press, but they issued a press release that indicated the check more than doubled the fund's previous balance. The fund is expected to reach $160 million U.S. The monies will eventually be distributed to charities supported by the Princess before her death in a car accident earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the British

music industry trade paper Dot Music reports that record retailers drastically underestimated the demand for the allstar tribute double CD released in early December on Richard Branson's V2 label. The publication quotes a spokesperson from the giant HMV chain acknowledging they had ordered just 16,000 copies of the release, which features 32 tracks from megastars including U2, R.E.M, Sting, Michael Jackson, the Spice Girls, Puff Daddy, Eric Clapton's, Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen, Toni Braxton and others.

All 16,000 were sold in less than one day, leaving the distributors scrambling for more product. The HMV spokesperson told Dot that retailers were cautious in spite of the massive success of the Elton John single because a subsequent CD issued by Polygram Classics containing the music played at Diana's funeral, including the live version of John's "Candle '97," had not been that successful. That record had met with huge expectations and lackluster sales.