Freddie Mercury had two great loves over his lifetime.
The woman he almost married and the man he privately loved.
In 1969, when he was 24 years old, Mercury met a 19-year-old shop assistant named Mary Austin. He wasn’t yet famous, but Austin said she was attracted to the “wild-looking artistic musician”.
“He was like no one I had met before,” she told the Daily Mail in 2013. “He was very confident—something I have never been. We grew together.”
Four years later, in 1973, Mercury proposed on Christmas Day. The Queen frontman would later write Love Of My Life about Austin.
However, the couple never married. When Mercury came out as bisexual to Austin, she ended their engagement.
Despite no longer being romantically involved, the pair remained best friends for the rest of Mercury’s life.
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Mercury bought Austin a home and often spoke about how she would always be the great love of his life.
“All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible,” Mercury said in a 1985 interview with the New York Post.
“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.”
Austin later married and had two kids. However, she never forget about Mercury. When he was diagnosed with AIDS, she tended to him until his eventual death in 1991.
In his will, Mercury left his London mansion, Garden Lodge, to Austin. He also asked his ex-fiance to scatter his ashes in an undisclosed location.