THEIR love story is the most unconventional in pop.
On one side Freddie Mercury, the wild singer from Queen who once bragged: “I’ll sleep with anything — man, woman or cat”.
The first film about the singer’s incredible life, called Bohemian Rhapsody, will shine a new light into his little known romance with Mary, who today still lives in the vast West London mansion where he died[/caption]
On the other, softly spoken, working-class girl Mary Austin, who was brought up by her deaf parents — and remained loyally by his side until the very end
Mary found herself back in the spotlight this week when Brian May released never-seen- before pictures of Queen on tour in the 1970s and 1980s, including one of Freddie sat next to her on the band’s private jet.
Now the first film about the singer’s incredible life, called Bohemian Rhapsody, will shine a new light into his little known romance with Mary, who today still lives in the vast West London mansion where he died from an Aids-related illness in 1991.
When the trailer for the long-awaited movie came out, there were allegations it was “straightwashing” Freddie’s life by so often showing him with a young blonde.
Mary found herself in the spotlight this week when Brian May released pictures of Queen on tour in the 1970s and 1980s, including this one of Freddie sat next to her on the band’s private jet[/caption]
The truth is that his love for Mary was very real.
She was not there, as some believed, to hide his homosexuality from the public.
Not only did Freddie ask her to marry him, he also left her half of his £75million estate, including the cherished £25million Georgian mansion in Kensington.
And although they did split over his lust for cocaine-fuelled sex with young men, they remained incredibly close.
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
The 67-year-old now lives as a recluse behind the high spiked walls of the mansion, where fans still make regular pilgrimages[/caption]
He 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.”
The 67-year-old now lives as a recluse behind the high spiked walls of the mansion, where fans still make regular pilgrimages.
A neighbour told The Sun he rarely sees Mary. He said: “In the past four years I’ve seen her twice. She drives an old Mercedes and keeps herself to herself.”
Freddie and Mary shared a flat together during their relationship[/caption]
Several years ago Mary upset some of Freddie’s fans by having their graffiti scrubbed from the walls and putting up a transparent plastic sheet to prevent more.
But the interior of the lavishly decorated 28-room palace remains largely unchanged since Freddie’s days. As she did the interior design for him, choosing the Louis XV furniture, there is no reason to change a thing.
While she was not involved in making the new film, which opens in cinemas next month, she is said to have given it her approval. Produced by Brian May and bandmate Roger Taylor, Lucy Boynton plays Mary and Mr Robot actor Rami Malek the gap-toothed singer.
Off screen Lucy and Rami have struck up a romance of their own while making the project, which has spent almost a decade mired in development delays.
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
Mary was not there, as some believed, to hide his homosexuality from the public[/caption]
X-Men director Bryan Singer was fired near the end of the shoot and Lock Stock’s Dexter Fletcher had to finish the movie.
It is remarkable that it has taken so long to put Freddie’s incredible story on the big screen.
The band’s record label refused to release Bohemian Rhapsody as a single because it was nearly six minutes long, but Freddie persisted and it stayed at the top of the charts for nine weeks.
Equally unorthodox was his relationship with Mary, whose dad was a wallpaper trimmer and mother a domestic servant.
Not only did Freddie ask her to marry him, he also left her half of his £75million estate, including the cherished £25million Georgian mansion in Kensington[/caption]
Zanzibar-born Freddie, whose real name was Farrokh Bulsara, met Mary in 1969, five years after moving to England.
Aged 24, he had just finished art college, and 19-year-old Mary was working in a West London fashion boutique when they fell in love.
Soon they shared a cramped flat near Kensington market, where Freddie had a clothes stall with Queen drummer Roger Taylor.
Mary’s affections had to compete with Freddie’s determination to be a rock singer. For a while, he moved to Liverpool without her to join a band called Ibex, and later was often on tour with Queen.
Freddie went so far as to propose in 1973, around the time Queen released their debut album[/caption]
While Freddie was both camp on and off stage, sporting outrageous clothes and strutting theatrically, the presence of Mary meant his sexuality was not questioned.
Dedicating the song Love Of My Life to her seemed proof enough, particularly when he steadfastly batted away the question in interviews. He went so far as to propose in 1973, around the time Queen released their debut album.
On finding a jade ring inside a series of boxes, 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.”
Yet they were never to get beyond engagement, with Freddie ignoring her hints when they passed a wedding dress shop.
Initially faithful, the highly-sexed singer could not ignore his attraction to men and started sleeping with them behind her back.
Her suspicions grew but she lacked the nerve to confront him.
Fortunately, Freddie had the decency to confess that he was “bisexual” in 1976, by which time he was an international star.
Mary once 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’.”
After that she moved into a nearby flat and Freddie took advantage of the endless supply of men.
His sex parties were notorious, with male groupies walking about with only women’s hats covering their modesty, or nude models covered in chopped raw liver. By this time Freddie was heavily into cocaine, drinking a couple of bottles of vodka a day and having violent rages.
Mary remained close, working for his management company.
At one point she is said to have asked Freddie to give her a child, but he told her: “I still love you, but I can’t make love to you.”
That reluctance may well have saved her life, because by then he had been infected by the HIV virus.
Freddie had bedded hundreds of people at a time when Aids was unknown. When he was diagnosed in 1987 there was no treatment.
Realising his days were numbered, he signed a will in September 1991 that gave half his wealth to Mary and the rest to his parents and sister. Many of his friends, including lover Jim Hutton, were given £500,000 each or a house.
As the great showman slipped away in November of that year, Mary was by his side, holding his hand and telling how much she loved him.
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
Freddie – as the world will remember him[/caption]
Seeing he was too weak to reply, she fled the bedroom in tears.
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After his death, aged just 45, Mary carried out his wish to secretly scatter his ashes.
There have been numerous rumours about where she took the urn — including Kensal Green Cemetery, where there is a plaque with his real name, and the cherry tree in his garden — but she hasn’t betrayed his trust.
Mary never found a love that endured like theirs, choosing not to marry painter Piers Cameron, the father of her two children, Jamie and Richard, and divorcing her husband Nick Holford.
And as 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.”
Bohemian Rhapsody is in cinemas on October 24.