Renate’s Exocet for the Rocket Man: Sad claims she attempted suicide on honeymoon when Elton John declared marriage wasn’t working… and demands for £3m damages – this is the bitter postscript to the most curious showbiz coupling, writes ALISON BOSHOFF
Sir Elton John has always been gracious on the topic of his brief marriage to German recording engineer Renate Blauel. In 2017, he called her ‘a wonderful woman for whom I have so much love and admiration’.
In his autobiography, published last year and entitled Me, he wrote that Renate had been ‘decent and dignified’ about the end of the marriage after four years.
Both claimed — between 1984 and 1988 — to be happy and ‘in love’ with each other, with Elton talking about how much he cared for her. He said he wanted nothing more than to stay at home in Windsor with his young bride and become a ‘family man’.
Today, though, the former couple are at war.Bombshell documents filed at the High Court yesterday tell an entirely different story of perhaps the oddest marriage in rock history.
‘Sir Elton John has always been gracious on the topic of his brief marriage to German recording engineer Renate Blauel,’ says Alison Boshoff. Pictured: Elton John and Renate Blauel on February 14, 1984
Renate, now 67, says she tried to kill herself when, three days into their honeymoon, Sir Elton (then plain Elton) told her the marriage wasn’t working and she should go home.
She adds that he never visited her when she was recovering from having her stomach pumped in hospital in St Tropez, and that she was sent home to the UK by his assistant.
Yet, bizarrely, it appears from the court documents that she was then invited to join him on holiday again a week or two later.
She claims Sir Elton, 73, knew she was in a fragile mental state during their marriage, adding that she saw a Harley Street doctor and was prescribed medication for depression.
On a separate occasion, she says, she hid from the actress Nanette Newman and her film director husband Bryan Forbes when they came to dinner at the house she shared with Elton, after having a panic attack.
Alison Boshoff says: ‘In his autobiography, published last year and entitled Me, he wrote that Renate had been ‘decent and dignified’ about the end of the marriage after four years.’ Pictured: Alton John and Renate Blauel in Monaco on August 11, 1984
There was another panic attack, also in their Windsor home, when the late Princess Margaret asked her about a painting during dinner.
In the final year of the four-year marriage, Elton sent his manager — and former lover — John Reid to visit her at the flat in Kensington where she had moved after they separated. Reid reported back that Blauel addressed him in German, which she had never done before, and seemed to be on ‘mind-altering drugs’.
Her contention in the documents is that Sir Elton should not have talked about their marriage and should have known she could suffer psychiatric harm if he did, because of her previous mental health issues.
She also objects to Sir Elton saying in the biography that he had never wanted to be a father until decades after their wedding, by which time he was with husband David Furnish. She says this assertion ‘seriously misrepresented their relationship’.
Renate, who at the time of the wedding brushed off ‘talk’ that Elton was bisexual, says she had complete faith in their union and wishes to regain her privacy.
These revelations have come about because she is suing Sir Elton over his account of their marriage in his autobiography, and over the references to their marriage in the film Rocketman, released in May last year.
‘Renate, now 67, says she tried to kill herself when, three days into their honeymoon, Sir Elton (then plain Elton) told her the marriage wasn’t working and she should go home,’ says Alison Moshoff
She says both are in breach of a non-disclosure agreement they both signed when walking away from the union. She is seeking damages of up to £3 million and for his book to be amended in any subsequent editions.
She also wants an injunction to prevent him talking about her ever again, accusing him of ‘repeated and flagrant breaches’ of an agreement which promised that neither party would discuss their marriage publicly.
She adds that she has tried hard to regain complete anonymity, but his actions have sparked ‘recurring nightmares and agoraphobia, anxiety, depression, fear’.
She has gone so far as to change her name by deed poll and relocated within the UK. Apparently, she will change her name back to Renate Blauel on completion of the current legal action.
Elton, meanwhile, says the action runs counter to her stated desire for privacy. His spokesman adds that Renate is just looking to get money out of him.
It is true that even on her wedding day — February 14, 1984 — Renate had seemed rather shy and in her husband’s shadow.
Alison Boshoff says: ‘She also wants an injunction to prevent him talking about her ever again, accusing him of ‘repeated and flagrant breaches’ of an agreement which promised that neither party would discuss their marriage publicly.’ Pictured: Elton and Renate seen in London on May 2, 1988
The groom had asked for her hand in marriage four days earlier in a proposal which, he said in his autobiography, was driven by ‘insanity’ and the thought: ‘What if I had only spent the last 14 years sleeping with men because I hadn’t found the right woman yet?’
Elton recalled that Renate’s father had been ‘extremely gracious after being informed that his daughter was getting married to a famously homosexual rock star in four days’ time’.
Elton added in his book that his emotional state ‘felt remarkably like love’ but revealed that at the time of his proposal, he and Renate had not even kissed.
Elton was a gay man, desperately addicted to cocaine, and when he and Renate first met he was in a serious relationship with Gary, a hunky blond Australian who travelled with him.
He and Renate first came across each other at the AIR studios in London in 1982, when he was cutting the album Too Low For Zero and she was a tape operative.
She was hired again to work on his next album, Breaking Hearts. And in 1983, when Elton flew to Sydney to start a tour of Australia and New Zealand, he insisted Renate should come along.
‘She has gone so far as to change her name by deed poll and relocated within the UK. Apparently, she will change her name back to Renate Blauel on completion of the current legal action,’ says Alison Boshoff
Elton said in his book that he started to ask himself: ‘What if the problem in my relationships wasn’t me? What if it was the fact that they were gay relationships? What if a relationship with a woman could make me happy in a way that relationships with men had thus far failed to do?’
Their married life seemed conventional at first. Elton said: ‘We just want to spend some time together. We want to have a home life. I simply want to be a family man.’ He told an interviewer he hoped for two children.
There were separations from early on, though. In April 1984, he left Renate behind in Woodside, Windsor, to go on a European tour.
In August 1984, they went on a much-delayed honeymoon to a villa in the South of France.
In court documents prepared by Renate’s QC, Adam Wolanski, she explains that she tried to kill herself as it became apparent that the marriage was failing quickly.
‘Approximately five to six months after their wedding, the claimant and the defendant went on their honeymoon to a villa near St Tropez,’ he states.
‘They were joined on the trip by Bob Halley, the defendant’s personal assistant, who stayed in the honeymoon property with the couple, and John Reid, who was staying at a nearby villa.
‘Three days into the honeymoon, and without any forewarning, the defendant told the claimant the marriage was not working and that he wanted her to leave the property and return to England.
‘The claimant was extremely upset. She immediately left the property to go on a walk and, upon her return, obtained Valium tablets from the luggage of Mr Halley, which she knew he carried in case any member of the party had trouble sleeping.
‘She went into a spare bedroom and wrote a note to the defendant, before taking an overdose of approximately 36 Valium tablets. She quickly lost consciousness and was discovered by Mr Halley.
‘He alerted the defendant, who became extremely angry. Mr Halley then drove the claimant to a hospital in St Tropez, where she had her stomach pumped. The defendant did not visit her during her two-day stay in hospital.
She adds that he never visited her when she was recovering from having her stomach pumped in hospital in St Tropez (pictured) and that she was sent home to the UK by his assistant
‘Upon being discharged and, it is to be inferred, on the instructions of the defendant, Mr Halley met the claimant at the hospital with her luggage and drove her straight to the airport, to fly back to London.
‘After approximately one to two weeks, she was permitted to rejoin the defendant on the honeymoon.’
Neither Bob Halley nor John Reid works for the singer now. Both were ditched after decades of service — but they may finally have their say about their former employer in court, should the action end up there.
Mr Wolanski offers further evidence of Ms Blauel’s vulnerable mental state in the court documents.
He says she sought help from a psychiatrist between 1985 and 1986 for ‘persistently low mood’ and was given antidepressant medication which Elton knew about.
In 1985, Elton and Renate hosted a lunch for members of the Royal Family including the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and Prince Andrew, in advance of his wedding to Sarah Ferguson the following year.
Alison Boshoff says: ‘Sir Elton denies breaching the terms of the divorce agreement or knowing Renate was susceptible to mental health issues’
Court papers state: ‘During this visit, Princess Margaret asked the claimant about a painting belonging to the defendant. The claimant was unable to recall any details about the painting and this caused her to panic and become very anxious.
‘She interrupted the defendant’s conversation with the Queen Mother to ask for assistance before removing herself to another room.’
Renate went with Elton to Prince Andrew’s wedding in 1986. There was talk of a rift but in public Renate denied any problems, saying they were contemplating a second wedding ceremony and ‘we are as close as we ever were’.
At Christmas 1986, according to court documents, Sir Elton was touring in Australia and Renate couldn’t face being in Windsor, so she took a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which he knew about.
In 1987, after she had failed to show up at his 40th birthday celebrations, she moved into the Kensington flat.
In November 1988, Mr Reid released a statement confirming the marriage was at an end.
Renate said at the time: ‘Both of us have been and will be so busy with our own work commitments that we are seeing too little of each other.
‘For that reason it seems unavoidable that we are growing apart. We are, however, parting on the most amicable terms and genuinely intend to remain best friends… I wish Elton all the happiness in the world and I know that he wishes me the same.’
Elton deeply regretted the divorce. ‘It was the right thing to do but it was a horrible feeling. I had broken the heart of someone I loved and who loved me unconditionally… there was no acrimony involved at all.’
Now there is acrimony aplenty. Sir Elton denies breaching the terms of the divorce agreement or knowing Renate was susceptible to mental health issues.
His contention is everything said by him about the marriage and why it failed is already common knowledge. His legal counsel, Jenny Afia, said: ‘We find it baffling that this claim is centred around privacy when at every stage of these proceedings Renate has chosen to file these claims in the public domain (when she could have chosen to keep them confidential) about supposed experiences that happened during their marriage, which completely goes against the entire grounds of the case.
‘This only goes to show the true purpose of this claim, which is to extract a large sum of money from Elton and tarnish his name publicly with falsehoods.’
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