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28 April 2023, 12:03 | Updated: 28 April 2023, 12:41
She was the one woman who Freddie Mercury truly loved.
Mary Austin may have been quite different from the flamboyant frontman of Queen, but she was one of the most important people in his life.
The softly-spoken working-class girl was brought up by her deaf parents, and remained by Freddie Mercury's side until his death in 1991.
Mary is one of the main characters in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, in which she is played by actress Lucy Boynton.
The real-life Mary Austin still lives in the West London mansion where Freddie died from an AIDS-related illness in 1991. It was only last year that she finally took down tributes to the late singer.
Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin were so close, that at one stage Freddie asked her to marry him, and he also left her half of his £75 million estate, including the £25 million Georgian mansion in Kensington.
They did in fact date, and although they split up as romantic partners, they remained very close friends.
Freddie once said: "All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible. The only friend I’ve got is Mary, and I don’t want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage."
“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.”
While Mary was not involved in making the new film starring Rami Malek as Freddie, she is said to have given her approval.
Freddie first met Mary in 1969, five years after moving to England.
Aged 24 at the time, he had just finished art college, and a 19-year-old Mary was working in a West London fashion boutique, and love soon blossomed.
They soon shared a small flat near Kensington Market, where Freddie had a clothes stall with Queen drummer Roger Taylor.
While there had been rumours about Freddie's sexuality, the constant presence of Mary meant his sexuality was not seriously questioned for some time.
He dedicated the song 'Love Of My Life' to her, and proposed in 1973.
Mary said: “I was speechless. I remember thinking, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on’. It wasn’t what I’d expected at all.”
However, Freddie could not ignore his attraction to men and started having affairs.
He is said to have told her that he was bisexual in 1976. 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’.”
They soon broke up and she soon moved into a nearby flat, and Freddie started hosting wild parties. However, Mary remained close, and even worked for his management company.
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Freddie signed a will in September 1991, that gave half of his vast wealth to Mary and the rest to his parents and sister.
Most of his friends, including lover Jim Hutton, were given £500,000 each or a house.
Mary was Freddie's bedside holding his hand when he passed away at the age of 45.
She later carried out his wish to secretly scatter his ashes. While there have been various rumours about where she took the ashes, such as Kensal Green Cemetery or the cherry tree in his garden, she has never revealed the whereabouts.
Mary Austin chose not to marry painter Piers Cameron, the father of her two children, Jamie and Richard, and divorced her husband Nick Holford.
She later explained: “I lost my family, really, when Freddie died. He was everything to me, apart from my sons. He was like no one I had met before.”
Mary, now 72, lives a private life behind the high walls of Freddie's London mansion, where fans still make regular visits to pay their respects.
April 2023 saw her make the unprecedented announcement she was to auction 1,500 of Freddie Mercury's personal treasures at auction.
Mary Austin Love For Freddie Mercury
In a move that has surprised Queen fans across the world, Mary Austin announced she is auctioning 1,500 of the star's belongings including costumes, instruments and the singer's hand-written song lyrics.
In an exclusive interview with the BBC at Garden Lodge, Freddie Mercury's beloved West-London home, Mary Austin explained her decision.
"The time has come for me to take the difficult decision to close this very special chapter in my life," she said in an interview released on April 26, 2023.
"I need to put my affairs in order," she explained, adding, "I decided that it wouldn't be appropriate for me to keep things back."
"If I was going to sell, I had to be brave and sell the lot."
The ground-breaking Sotheby's auction entitled Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own will go on display in London from August 4 until September 5, which would have marked the star's 77th birthday.