Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin: The insider's tale of their lifelong love story

9 August 2022, 10:41

Freddie Mercury, was famously and opening gay, however he had one women in his life who was more important to him that anyone else, Mary Austin. Pictured: The pair in 1985.
Freddie Mercury, was famously and opening gay, however he had one women in his life who was more important to him that anyone else, Mary Austin. Pictured: The pair in 1985. Picture: Alamy

By Giorgina Hamilton

Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin had an exceedingly close relationship that spanned over three decades.

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Freddie Mercury, was openly gay, however, he had one woman in his life who was more important to him than anyone else and who he referred to proudly as his 'soulmate'.

The unusual and life-long love between Mary Austin and the singer was played out on screen in the Oscar-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody and Freddie Mercury said he'd love her "Until I draw my last breath. We’ll probably grow old together".

Over the years close friends and Mary Austin herself have spoken out about the extraordinary relationship – one that was so significant it was reportedly the inspiration behind Queen's hit song, 'Love of My Life' – and fans the world over and still fascinated by the pair's close bond.

the young couple shared a small flat near Kensington Market – where Freddie had a clothes stall with Queen drummer Roger Taylor. Pictured in 1977.
the young couple shared a small flat near Kensington Market – where Freddie had a clothes stall with Queen drummer Roger Taylor. Pictured in 1977. Picture: Getty
The pair's relationship spanned over three decades. (Pictured in 1987)
The pair's relationship spanned over three decades. (Pictured in 1987). Picture: Getty

A young Freddie Mercury first met Mary in 1969, when he was 24-years-old, five years after moving to England and a year before he joined the band, Queen.

Mary Austin was from a working-class family in Fulham, west London – her father was a wallpaper cutter and her mother a maid – and had landed a job in the prestigious fashion boutique Biba in Kensington, in 1969 when she was 19-years-old.

Freddie Mercury had just finished studying at Ealing Art College when he visited the fashionable shop and met Mary – love quickly blossomed between the pair.

It wasn't long before the young couple shared a small flat near Kensington Market – where Freddie had a clothes stall with Queen drummer Roger Taylor – and for a long time, it was Mary who was the breadwinner of the two as Freddie struggled to get his singing career off the ground.

2020's Channel 5 documentary Freddie Mercury: A Christmas Story saw Freddie's closest friends open up about the early days of Mary and Freddie's romance.

Mary Austin (pictured) was just 19-years-old when she met Freddie Mercury.
Mary Austin (pictured) was just 19-years-old when she met Freddie Mercury. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin pictured at Freddie's 38th birthday in 1984
Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin pictured at Freddie's 38th birthday in 1984. Picture: Getty

Peter Freestone, Mercury's PA of 13 years, said: "She (Mary) was incredibly important. Don’t forget, she looked after him for the first years when he wasn’t making a penny and Mary was working.

"So she paid the rent, she paid for everything when they were living together from 1969.”

Another friend Yasmine Pettigrew said in the documentary that Freddie and Mary were inseparable from the moment they met.

"They were very much a pair", she said. "He watched over her as well. He always wanted to know, if he was with Mary, that Mary was okay.

"She stuck by him and he stuck by her.

"You put your life in your hands if you tried to come between them, that’s for sure. Everyone knew that. They had a bond which people who are together forever have.”

The pair's relationship spanned over three decades.
It wasn't until 1976 that Freddie told his fiancé he thought he was bisexual. Mary later said: “I’ll never forget that moment. I remember saying to him, ‘No Freddie, I don’t think you are bisexual. I think you are gay’.”. Picture: Alamy
Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin in London, 1986
Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin in London, 1986. Picture: Getty

Mary and Freddie had been together for four years when the newly famous singer, proposed.

Mary later said of the engagement: “I was speechless. I remember thinking, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on’. It wasn’t what I’d expected at all.”

The pair got engaged, however, Freddie could not ignore his growing attraction to men and started having affairs behind Mary's back.

It wasn't until 1976 that Freddie told his fiancé he thought he was bisexual. Mary later said: “I’ll never forget that moment. I remember saying to him, ‘No Freddie, I don’t think you are bisexual. I think you are gay’.”

It was that heartbreaking realisation that caused the couple to break up.

Mary moved into a flat nearby and Freddie started hosting wild parties with newfound friends from the London gay scene.

However, Mary remained very close to the star and even began working for his management company.

As the years went by, Queen become one of the most famous bands in the world and despite Freddie Mercury falling in love with partner Jim Hutton, Mary was a constant in his life.
As the years went by, Queen become one of the most famous bands in the world and despite Freddie Mercury falling in love with partner Jim Hutton, Mary was a constant in his life. Picture: Getty

As the years went by, Queen become one of the most famous bands in the world and despite Freddie Mercury falling in love with partner Jim Hutton, Mary was a constant in his life.

From accompanying the band on tour to Hungary, to being with Freddie's when he passed away from AIDS in 1991, Mary was never far from the star's side and even after his death she was one of the only people he trusted with his affairs.

In his will Freddie left Mary his house, and an astonishing fifty percent of all his future earnings with Queen.

Peter Freestone, another constant in Freddie's life, recalls the close bond between the pair and the secret to their everlasting love.

In an exclusive interview with Express Online, Peter said: "Freddie romanticised his love for Mary to a greater degree. But Freddie taught me love is a quality not a quantity.

"You don’t use all your love once and then it's gone. Freddie did love Mary but then he also loved Jim. He loved his friends.

"Mary was there when he made the transition to being gay and she stood by him. Freddie felt huge guilt more than anything for what he put her through in 1975 when he broke their engagement and told her the truth about himself.

Mary Austin pictured at Freddie Mercury's funeral in 1991.
Mary Austin pictured at Freddie Mercury's funeral in 1991. Picture: Alamy

"However, Freddie kept Mary close all his life, entrusted her with his finances and even asked her to hide his ashes after he died.

"I do think it is significant that, in the end, he gave Mary the house and half of all his future earnings from Queen. That is what he truly felt for her."

Nine years after his Freddie's death Mary gave an interview to OK! Magazine saying the months after Mercury passed were "the loneliest and most difficult time of my life."

“I lost somebody who I thought was my eternal love", she said.

"When he died I felt we'd had a marriage. We'd lived our vows. We'd done it for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.

“You could never have let go of Freddie unless he died - and even then it was difficult."

Mary also gave an insight into Freddie's final days and how he "chose the time to die."

Mary Austin pictured with Queen's Brian May in 2002.
Mary Austin pictured with Queen's Brian May in 2002. Picture: Getty

Recalling those "distressing" final days, Mary said: "The quality of his life had changed so dramatically and he was in more pain every day."

She continued: "He was losing his sight. His body became weaker as he suffered mild fits.

“One day he decided enough was enough and stopped all the medical supplements that were keeping him going.”

Mary revealed Freddie died on November 24, 1991 "with a smile on his face," and friend Dave Clark, of the Dave Clark Five, was by his bedside.

It was a bond that was everlasting. Freddie left his beloved Kensington home Garden Lodge to Mary, and as per his request, she has kept the location of his ashes a secret from the world.

Freddie once said of Mary: "There have only been two individuals who have given back as much love to me as I gave to them: Mary, with whom I had a long affair, and our cat, Jerry.

"My bond with Mary seems to grow and grow... I'll love her until I draw my last breath."