Mary Austin was the ever-present female figure beside Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Austin, the daughter of deaf, working-class parents, met Mercury in 1969 at a London clothing store where she worked. Despite her reservations, Mary and Freddie started dating, and several months later, she moved into his flat.
It wouldn’t be long before Queen became a household name. Freddie proposed to Mary in 1973, the same year Queen released its eponymous first album. Mary and Freddie would never wed, but Mary remained by Freddie’s side up to his death. Austin alone knows where she scattered Freddie Mercury’s ashes.
Mary still lives a secretive life in Freddie’s One Garden Lodge mansion
Mary Austin celebrated her 70th birthday in March 2021 in the One Garden Lodge mansion that Freddie Mercury left her. Freddie’s friends couldn’t believe it when they learned that he left the mansion to Mary Austin.
Jim Austin, Mercury’s partner at the time of his death, thought that the house would go to him. Three months after Freddie’s death, Mary asked Jim, Freddie’s ex Joe Fanelli, and Freddie’s PA Peter Freestone to leave the premises.
Freddie had left each of them a sizeable 500,000 pounds, so they had somewhere to go. Mary stated that she didn’t enjoy evicting Peter, Joe, and Jim:
“Some of the fans even told me I was only the keeper of the house. That hurt. I know several of Freddie’s gay friends were surprised Freddie had left so much to me. There are those who thought they should have been left the house. It was like people begrudged me having what he had left me.”
Freddie bequeathed Mary not only his house but also his fortune and half his future earnings from Queen. Mary had tried to persuade him to make the London mansion a memorial site that fans could visit, but Freddie insisted that she have it.
“If things had been different, you would have been my wife and this would have been yours anyway,” Freddie reportedly said. Mary raised her two children, Richard and James, in Freddie’s mansion.
The rare interviews she’s given from the house show that she hasn’t changed most of Freddie’s decorations. In 2017, she clashed with Freddie’s fans after she had all the graffiti on the mansion’s outside wall removed and replaced with a warning stating that defacing the wall constituted a crime.
A section of Freddie’s fans claims that Mary is merely a caretaker of the property. However, Freddie’s will stipulates that the property is hers to do with as she pleases. At the moment, she enjoys a quiet life with her cats at the compound. It’s unlikely that Mary will turn the house into a museum as Freddie wanted it to be a family home.
Mary and Mercury were headed for marriage before Mercury revealed that he was bisexual
Six years into Mary and Freddie’s relationship, she started to suspect that he was having an affair. Freddie changed after she threatened to leave, but he revealed to Mary that he was bisexual not long after.
“I’ll never forget that moment,” Austin told The Daily Mail. “I do remember saying to him at the time, ‘No Freddie, I don’t think your bisexual. I think you are gay.” Freddie’s revelation ended the couple’s engagement and physical relationship.
However, it didn’t break their bond. She continued to tour with Mercury and the band. “And they remained such good friends for so long after that,” biographer Mark Blake told Biography “She stayed as part of the band’s entourage because she was part of his entourage. She was the most important person in that entourage.”
Mary would go on to marry Piers Cameron, but when Freddie died, she stated that it felt like she had lost family. “He was everything to me, apart from my sons,” Mary said. “He was like no one I had met before.” Mercury once said that he considered Mary to be his wife:
“All my lovers ask 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.”
Freddie kept his promise of loving Mary till the day he died. “We’d done it for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health,” Mary told OK!