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.
- Photo: Shinko Music/Contributor/Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Austin Tended To An Ailing Mercury After His AIDS Diagnosis
As Mercury's health declined, Austin remained by his side. She recalled one occasion when the two were watching footage of a Queen performance from years prior, and Mercury turned to her and said, "To think I used to be so handsome."
She remembered having to leave the room because "it was too upsetting. We were never allowed to get emotional around him, and that was hard."
Austin supported Mercury's decision to keep his illness private until just before he passed. He followed a unique path until the end, as Austin reported:
It was Freddie's decision to finally end it all. He chose the time to die... he knew it was coming. The quality of his life had changed so dramatically, and he was in more pain every day. He was losing his sight. His body became weaker as he suffered mild fits. It was so distressing to see him deteriorating in this way. One day he decided enough was enough and stopped all the medical supplements that were keeping him going.
The overwhelming thing for me was that he was just so incredibly brave. He looked death in the face and said, "Fine. I'll accept it now - I'll go." But it was peaceful, and he died with a smile on his face.
- Photo: Dave Hogan/Contributor/Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Mercury Was Godfather To Austin's First Child
After Austin and Mercury ended their romantic relationship, she began a relationship with painter Piers Cameron. The couple had two sons, Richard and Jamie. Jamie was born shortly after Mercury's death in 1991, but Mercury was Richard's godfather.
According to Austin, "Nick was very brave to take me on, really. I come with a lot of baggage, a huge chapter in my life. At first, because of the past and the broken affairs, I wasn't entirely sure about marriage."
- Photo: Michael Putland/Contributor/Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Austin And Mercury Both Had Complicated Relationships With Their Parents
According to journalist David Wigg, Austin's parents were both deaf. Austin claimed she did not grow up with money, as her father trimmed wallpaper and her mother was a domestic worker for a small company.
Mercury's parents, Bomi and Jer, were strict and struggled to understand their son's colorful personality and love for making music. Mercury's sister, Kashmira, recalled a lot of door slamming as a result of Mercury and their parents arguing about how often he would go out and socialize.
Mercury and Austin bonded over their complicated relationship with their parents, though they were well acquainted with each other's family.
Mercury Left Austin His House And Most Of His Fortune
In keeping with Mercury's will after his death in 1991, Austin received his house and half of his fortune - something Mercury warned might cause problems. Austin explained that the inheritance made her feel "out of [her] depth:"
Freddie's staff had been like family to me, but after his death, most of them had left because he'd been so financially generous to them. I had sleepless nights worrying about everything. I felt as if I'd done something wrong, and paranoia set in. Some of the fans even told me I was only the keeper of the house. That hurt.
Mercury left his parents and his sister considerable portions of his wealth. His mother didn't question her son's final wishes, indicating that Austin was like family. Mercury's staff, including his partner Jim Hutton, each received £500,000.
Austin never redecorated Mercury's house, as she did not see a need to redo what she considered his impeccable style. As of 2018, she reportedly lives around the corner from the home, otherwise known as Garden Lodge.