The charitable side of... Elton John

Graham Willgoss

Sir Elton John may enjoy spending his millions frivolously, but the amount he has contributed to charity is vast.

When Sir Elton John marries his long-term partner David Furnish after gay civil partnerships become legal this month, the flower bill is likely to be enormous. Pop's Rocket Man reportedly spent £293,000 on flowers in just 20 months between 1999 and 2000.

"Yes," was his response when he was asked if that was even possible.

"I like flowers."

But the star's contributions to his local florist are far outweighed by his donations to charity.

He handed over more than £22.6m, or 12 per cent of his £185m fortune, to charitable causes in 2004, making him the most generous donor in music, according to The Sunday Times Rich List. The singer is chairman of his own charity, the Elton John Aids Foundation, which he set up in 1992 after - according to his website - being "horrified and angered at the magnitude of HIV/Aids, and at how little was being done to help those affected by the virus". It aims to improve the quality of life of people with HIV and Aids by financing projects that help to alleviate physical, emotional and financial suffering.

Since it launched, the foundation has given out more than £26m to fund HIV/Aids projects in 55 countries. Its major annual fundraiser is the wall-to-wall celebrity-fest that is the white tie and tiara ball, held in the grounds of John's London home, which raised £500,000 this year.

In 1997, Sir Elton also famously released a version of his Candle in the Wind record, dedicated to Princess Diana. It became the biggest-selling UK single of all time, shifting 4.86 million copies, and sold 37 million copies worldwide. He gave all the £38m proceeds - the equivalent of 208 years worth of fresh flowers - to the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

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