Though Mary Austin and Freddie Mercury did not have a traditional relationship, Mercury considered Austin the love of his life. He wrote one of Queen's immortal hits about her, and she was an essential part of the band's entourage. Austin remained by his side until he passed, and he left her a large piece of his fortune.
Considering the history of Freddie Mercury's relationships, both platonic and romantic, the dynamic singer valued the people in his life beyond simple pleasantries. His connection to Austin transcended the ups and downs of their personal and professional relationship. Austin's story and how she inspired the Queen frontman paints the picture of a friendship that can and did survive against all the odds.
Mary Austin is more connected to the story of Queen and Freddie Mercury than you might realize.
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Mercury's Proposal Was Unexpected
After years of living together, Mercury asked Austin to marry him. Austin was surprised by his proposal on Christmas Day 1973; it was so unexpected that she had to ask whether the ring was to go on her left or right hand. She remembered:
He bought me a ring and put it in the most enormous box. I opened the box, and inside was another box, and so it went on until I got to this very tiny box. When I opened it, there was this beautiful Egyptian scarab ring. It's supposed to bring good luck. He was very sweet and shy about giving it to me.
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After Mercury Revealed He Was Interested In Men, Their Romantic Relationship Came To An End
The romantic relationship between Mercury and Austin lasted six years. By the end, Austin began to question Mercury's sexuality. At first, she thought he was seeing other women - a logical assumption, considering that women routinely mobbed Mercury after concerts.
Austin became increasingly insecure in their relationship, but Mercury assured her he wanted her to be a part of his life. All the while, Mercury struggled to come to terms with his sexuality and what it meant for his relationship with Austin. He eventually told her that he thought he might be bisexual.
She told him that she believed he was gay. They separated and became platonic friends, developing a profoundly emotional connection over the following years. Mercury bought Austin a £30,000 flat and affectionately referred to her as Old Faithful.
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Mercury Wrote 'Love Of My Life' About Austin
Mercury commented that his "love affair [with Austin] ended in tears, but a deep bond grew out of it, and that's something nobody can take away from us. It's unreachable." On another occasion, Mercury said of his relationship with Austin:
Love is the hardest thing to achieve and the one thing in this business that can let you down the most... I have built up an immense bond with Mary. [We] have gone through just about everything and [she has] always been there for me.
He wrote a song, "Love of My Life," about Austin and their bond; it appears on the 1975 album Night at the Opera.
Austin Worked For Queen During The '80s
Austin became a personal assistant to Mercury and Queen during the 1980s. Described by some as more of a gofer, Austin lived near Mercury in a subsidized flat. As a member of Mercury's management team and a constant presence in his life, Austin often appeared with Mercury in front of the cameras.
She was also in charge of paying monthly allowances to Mercury's other aides, including Jim Hutton, the frontman's partner.