Who is Elton John's ex-wife Renate Blauel and where is she now?
11 May 2021, 11:00
The pop legend married the German sound engineer in Australia on Valentine’s Day 1984.
One of the principal characters of the film was Renate Blauel, Elton's former wife, played by actress Celinde Schoenmaker.
Read more: Elton John's forgotten ex-fiancée speaks out about cancelled wedding: "I thought he loved me"
Years later, Elton has since come out as a gay man, and has been happily married to his longtime partner David Furnish.
But when did they get married, how did they break up and what is she doing now? Here's all the facts:
Who is Renate Blauel and how did she meet Elton John?
The couple met in early 1983 in London. Born in Munich, she was described in tabloid reports at the time as a tape operator or sound technician.
She was introduced to Elton when he was finishing his Too Low for Zero album. Known as rather quiet compared to showman Elton, Blauel apparently wanted to become a record producer.
Less than a year later, Elton arrived in Australia for the Too Low for Zero tour. Blauel joined him as part of his entourage, and was by now a close friend.
On February 10 1983, while having dinner at an Indian restaurant, Elton proposed. She accepted and the engagement was announced the following day. The wedding took place just three days later.
Before this, Elton had publicly said he was bisexual in 1976, and many of his close friends were said to have been convinced he was gay.
His close friend and lyricist Bernie Taupin later said that he saw the wedding as Elton simply wanting to have a family. Elton's mother Sheila announced she would give the newlyweds a baby stroller as a wedding gift, according to Elton's former publicist, Caroline Boucher.
What happened at the wedding?
The wedding took place at St Mark’s Anglican church in Darlinghurst, a suburb of Sydney, Australia.
Renate Blauel wore a white silk and lace wedding gown and a gold, heart-shaped pendant featuring 63 diamonds. Elton also wore white.
His coat reportedly cost £1,000 at the time, and was worn over a striped silk shirt and lavender bow-tie. He completed the outfit with a boater hat and a matching lavender band.
It was held on Valentine’s Day, when Elton was 36 and Renate was 28.
One of the most surprised was Elton's pal Rod Stewart, who apparently referenced a recent Elton hit, writing: “You may still be standing, but we’re all on the f***ing floor.”
When did they split up?
Four years later in November 1988, they couple divorced and went their separate ways.
Blauel virtually disappeared from the public eye, and has never spoken publicly of the marriage since.
When the split was announced, Blauel claimed that she and Elton were parting amicably, “and genuinely intend to remain best of friends.”
Elton had also been struggling with drug and alcohol addictions since before the wedding, and later compared his decision to get married to his situation in a 2008 interview with The Australian.
“A drug addict thinks like this: ‘I’ve had enough boyfriends, and that’s not made me happy, so I’ll have a wife — that will change everything.’ And I loved Renate. She’s a great girl. I really, really loved her. But, you know… it is one of the things I regret most in my life, hurting her.”
Soon after their divorce, Elton told Rolling Stone that he was gay, not bisexual. In 2014, he married his longtime partner David Furnish and they now have two sons together, Zachary (born 2010) and Elijah (born 2013).
In 2017 while on tour in Australia, Elton released a statement in support of gay marriage in the country, writing on Instagram: “Many years ago, I chose Australia for my wedding to a wonderful woman for whom I have so much love and admiration.
"I wanted more than anything to be a good husband, but I denied who I really was, which caused my wife sadness, and caused me huge guilt and regret.”
The divorce settlement was around £5 million, and Blauel went on to live in a country house in Surrey purchased for her by Elton.
She carried on living a secluded life in the UK until the early 2000s, when she is thought to have returned to Germany to care for her parents. It is unknown what she's up to today.
Are they still in contact?
Renate launched a legal action against the singer at the high court in June 2020.
The sound engineer was seeking an injunction against Sir Elton. Although the reasons for the move is unclear, such measures usually occur in relation to privacy concerns or the publication of personal material.
Her lawyer confirmed papers had been filed, but said his client "hopes to resolve the matter privately and amicably".
Sir Elton's representatives declined to comment on the case at the time.
Who plays Renate Blauel in Rocketman?
Renate appears as a character in Rocketman, the movie about Elton John's early career.
She is played by actress Celinde Schoenmaker, in what is her first screen role.
The 30-year-old Dutch actress has appeared in various Dutch and West End stage productions, including Ghost, The Phantom of the Opera and Barnum.