Who Is the Real Mary Austin, Freddie Mercury's Girlfriend?
Mary Austin is a private woman who prefers to keep information about her life and her relationship with Freddie Mercury a secret. Thanks to the monster success of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie, she has been thrust into the limelight once again.
In fact, she worked closely with the director of the movie to ensure the film’s authenticity (mostly). But who is Mary Austin, and what was her relationship with Freddie really like? What did the movie get right — and wrong — about their lives?
Before Queen: Part 1
Born in 1951 in the Fulham area in London, Mary Austin came from a family of very modest means. Little is known about her parents or her extended family, but Mary has stated that she always wanted to make a good living since she was a teenager.
Before Queen: Part 2
Before Mary met Freddie Mercury, she was in a relationship with another future Queen band member, Brian May. They dated for a bit but broke up over undisclosed differences. May is the one who first introduced Freddie to Mary.
The Fated Meeting
Mary met Freddie in 1969 when she was 19 years old and working in an English boutique called Biba. Freddie was 24 at the time, and he already knew he wanted to be a rock star — although he was a singer without a band at the time. Mary was impressed with the way he dressed and his interesting face.
The Beginning of a Relationship
Brian May knew his relationship with Mary Austin wasn’t going anywhere. "She was wary of anyone, and so we'd generally just go out for a drink and say goodnight and have a quick peck on the cheek, and that was it really," he said in Somebody to Love.
Living Together for the First Time
It didn't take long for Mary and Freddie to begin living together, although she admits it took her a while to fall in love with the singer. When she did, she fell deeply: "His pain became my pain. His joy became my joy," Mary said.
Moving to a Better Place
The couple was eventually able to afford a larger apartment, but it took a few years. By that time, Mary had fallen desperately in love with Freddie. In fact, she said she had never felt as in love as she did then.
Freddie's Unexpected Proposal
On Christmas Day in 1973, Freddie proposed to Mary. It came as a huge surprise to her. She even asked him which hand the ring was supposed to go on.
The End of Their Romantic Relationship
Despite their incredible love for each other, the couple’s relationship became a little rocky. Some rumors suggest Mary wanted to leave Freddie to find herself, but there has never been confirmation on her end. It did seem like she wanted out, and that could have been because she subconsciously knew about his sexuality.
Freddie Confessed His Bisexuality
On multiple occasions, Freddie didn’t come home at night, and Mary suspected he was having an affair with another woman. By the time 1976 rolled around, Queen was an international success. One night, he sat her down and explained his sexual feelings to her.
Moving Away from Freddie
Their physical and romantic relationship ended after he confessed, and Mary moved to a nearby apartment purchased for her by Freddie's music publishing company. Even though they were no longer a couple, she remained in the band’s inner circle.
Freddie's Lavish Lifestyle vs. Mary's Home Life
Mary stayed close to Freddie, but they began to live separate lives. While he gravitated to a life filled with sex, drugs and rock ‘n' roll, Mary started dating painter Pier Cameron and had two sons. One of her sons, Richard, was Freddie’s godson.
Working as a Personal Assistant for Queen
Still actively involved in Freddie's life, Mary became his personal assistant in the '80s. She appeared with him on television and in photos a lot during that time. Most of the photos taken of them are from this era, and she was fond of being photographed with him.
Freddie's AIDS Diagnosis
When Freddie was diagnosed with HIV, Mary felt like a truck hit her. In 1987, successful treatments for AIDS didn’t exist, and most people who tested HIV positive ended up with AIDS.
Freddie's Death: Part 1
Mary supported Freddie's decision to keep his illness secret until he passed. She made the following comment shortly after he died:
Freddie's Death: Part 2
Regarding visiting Freddie in the hospital, Mary said, "...it was upsetting. We were never allowed to get emotional around him, and that was hard." She remained by his side when his health took a turn for the worse. They would often watch footage of Queen's performances from years before that.
Mary’s Personal Grieving
When Freddie passed, Mary went through a long grieving process that continues to this day. She felt like she had lost someone she was married to — her eternal love. Mary remained close to Freddie throughout his illness, and watching him die was very difficult.
Inheriting a Mansion and a Large Sum of Money
Freddie included Mary in his will, and after his death in 1991, she inherited half of his total fortune. He thought this might cause her some problems, and Mary felt uncomfortable accepting the house and money, but he insisted.
The Family's Thoughts on the Inheritance
Freddie left a considerable amount of his wealth to his sister and parents. His mother wasn't upset by his inclusion of Mary and respected her son's wishes. Mary was like family to his parents, and they acknowledged the joy she brought into their son's life. Freddie's partner and staff each received £500,000.
Hiding Freddie's Ashes
To this day, no one knows where Freddie's ashes are buried. Mary promised Freddie that she would never tell anyone where they are. Freddie told her he didn't want anyone to dig them up and take them. He knew "fans can be deeply obsessive. He wanted it to remain a secret, and it will remain so."
Where Is Mary Now?
Mary had two children, Jamie and Richard, with painter Piers Cameron, but she didn't actually marry him. She eventually married Nick Holford in 1998, but they divorced after five years. She currently lives in London in the mansion Freddie left her, and fans often walk by the house to pay their respects.
Helping Freddie Kick His Drug Addiction
Freddie was well known for his lavish parties, which were way crazier in reality than they were in the movie. It’s hard to separate fact from fiction in terms of crazy things that happened, but there were strange rumors of people wearing meat and walking around naked.
Bonding Over Strained Parental Relationships
Both of Mary's parents were deaf, and she grew up quite poor. Her father trimmed wallpaper for a living, while her mother was a domestic worker. Back in those days, if the mother worked outside the home, it was usually for economic reasons.
Various Other Female Lovers
That's right. Even though Mary Austin was the love of Freddie's life, he did have other female lovers after Mary. Some of his female lovers include former Drifters manager Faye Treadwell, Barbara Valentin and Mary Martin. Freddie always made it clear that none of them even came close to Mary.
Longing for Freddie’s Child
It’s a weird fact, but it's true that Mary wanted to have Freddie’s child, long after they had broken up and she already had her first child. Even stranger, this occurred during the time when Freddie was at his most wild. Of course, it’s possible she asked him to have a baby because she wanted to keep a part of him forever.
A Mostly Accurate Film
The Bohemian Rhapsody movie portrayed the couple as being extremely close, and that was completely true. Other accurate elements in the film include the falling apart of their romantic relationship, how they maintained their friendship for the rest of his life and how Freddie reacted when he found out Mary was married.
About All Those Cheating Rumors
Sadly, when Freddie was coming to terms with his sexuality, he struggled with curiosity about being with men. As a result, he cheated on Mary multiple times, and he didn't tell her for several years. Mary was increasingly suspicious of his behavior. He avoided a lot of personal situations, including going out with her, and often lied about where he was.
Is "Love of My Life" About Mary?
Yes, the love ballad — and smash hit — "Love of My Life" was written about Mary. Freddie had stated in the past that their love affair was truly dead and had ended in tears. Still, a deep bond grew out of that pain, and it was something no one could take away from them.
Making a Fortune from Bohemian Rhapsody
Bohemian Rhapsody had a budget of $52 million, but the movie earned a worldwide gross of $903.7 million. Rami Malek's portrayal of Freddie was adored by fans as well as the remaining band members of Queen. Mary Austin — portrayed by Lucy Boynton — played a significant role in the film.
Likely Bisexual Rather Than Gay
Even though Mary told Freddie he was gay, it was likely what she needed to believe to protect her heart from what was happening. Freddie chose to have relationships with women long after he was outed for having relationships with men. He couldn’t hide his sexuality from the media, although he never publicly admitted he was bisexual.
Locking in the Perfect Portrayal of Mary Austin
"Brian May was my main source of information about all things, Mary," Lucy Boynton said. "He was actually the person who introduced Freddie and Mary. But talking to his wife, Anita Dobson, as well... she spent a lot of time with Mary when they would travel with the band.