Freddie Mercury’s secret wife
She was the love of his life
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.
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.