Fred­die Mer­cury’s se­cret wife

She was the love of his life

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - Contents -

Tal­ented, ex­u­ber­ant and flam­boy­antly gay, Queen su­per­star Fred­die Mer­cury lived life large as a pop icon of his gen­er­a­tion. But as he lay on his deathbed, it wasn’t his hand­some lover who soothed him with words of kindness and love. It was his com­mon-law wife Mary Austin.

The un­con­ven­tional and ten­der re­la­tion­ship be­tween Fred­die and Mary, cap­tured in the new movie Bo­hemian

Rhap­sody, has come as some­thing of a sur­prise to many of the front­man’s fans, but one thing is for cer­tain – it was not an in­ven­tion.

Even to­day, 27 years af­ter Fred­die’s death, the enig­matic Mary, 67, lives in the mag­nif­i­cent $50 mil­lion West Lon­don man­sion he left to her in his will, sur­rounded by mem­o­ries of the 22 years they spent to­gether.

“To me, it was a mar­riage,” Fred­die once said of their re­la­tion­ship. “We be­lieve in each other. That’s enough for me. I couldn’t fall in love with a man the same way as I have with Mary.”

It was in 1969 that art school grad­u­ate Fred­die, then aged 24, met 19-year-old Mary when she was work­ing in a fash­ion bou­tique. Within a year, the be­sot­ted cou­ple moved into a cramped Lon­don bed­sit to­gether.

In 1973, they be­came en­gaged and there was no mistaking how much they loved each other, but as the years rolled by and Fred­die stu­diously avoided the sub­ject of their wed­ding, Mary be­gan to sus­pect he was hav­ing il­licit li­aisons. In 1976, he con­fessed to her, “I think I’m bi­sex­ual.”

“No, Fred­die,” replied Mary. “I don’t think you’re bi­sex­ual. I think you’re gay.”

While that con­ver­sa­tion marked the end of their sex­ual re­la­tion­ship, it was by no means the end of their love story. By then, glam rock band Queen had hit the big time. Fred­die bought Mary a $580,000 flat near his home and the two re­mained emo­tion­ally de­voted to each other through thick and thin.

Wild par­ties

Free to em­brace his sex­u­al­ity, Fred­die launched him­self into a se­ries of re­la­tion­ships with men, and hosted a plethora of sex par­ties in which male groupies pa­raded around naked and nude male mod­els swanned about draped in chopped raw liver. Cham­pagne flowed and co­caine was snorted.

At other times, Fred­die and Mary would throw din­ner par­ties where she sat on one side of the singer and his boyfriend dujour would sit on the other.

Dur­ing this time, Mary asked Fred­die if he would give her a child, to which he an­swered, “I still love you, but I can’t make love to you. I’d rather have an­other cat.”

She even­tu­ally had two sons to an­other lover, although that re­la­tion­ship did not last.

By 1986, Fred­die had bed­ded hun­dreds of peo­ple and the fol­low­ing year, he re­ceived the dev­as­tat­ing news that he was HIV-pos­i­tive. At that stage, there was no treat­ment and by 1991, he knew he didn’t have long.

He signed a will leav­ing his 28-room Kens­ing­ton man­sion to Mary as well as half of his $150 mil­lion for­tune.

Mary nursed the love of her life through his fi­nal days, hold­ing his hand and whis­per­ing how much she adored him.

In an era where Aids was mis­un­der­stood and feared, Fred­die, 45, con­fided to Mary that he was ter­ri­fied his rest­ing place would be de­filed, mak­ing her prom­ise she would se­cretly scat­ter

his ashes and never dis­close the lo­ca­tion.

Mary kept the urn con­tain­ing Fred­die’s ashes for two years be­fore car­ry­ing out his last re­quest and de­spite much spec­u­la­tion, no-one – not even his fam­ily – has been told where they are.

“I never be­trayed Fred­die in his life­time,” de­clared Mary. “And I’ll never be­tray him now.”

Mary on a pri­vate jet dur­ing the early days of Queen. she over a baby Fred­die coos long­time part­ner. had with a Dressin­gup Fred­die’s foro­neof no­to­ri­ous par­ties.

Mary and Fred­die cud­dle up at his 38th birth­day party in 1984.

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