Mary Austin was the one woman who Freddie Mercury truly loved. Although she was very different to Queen's frontman, she was one of the most important people in his life.
Brought up by her deaf parents, Mary was a working-class girl, and remained by Freddie's side right up until his death in 1991. She still lives in the West London mansion where Freddie passed.
Freddie first met Mary in 1969, five years after he moved to England. Freddie was 24 and had just finished art college, whil Mary was 19 and was working in a West London fashion boutique. They fell in love, and shared a small flat near Kensington Market where Freddie had a clothes stall with Queen drummer Roger Taylor.
The song 'Love of My Life' was dedicated to Mary, and Freddie proposed to her in 1973: "I was speechless. I remember thinking, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on’. It wasn’t what I’d expected at all," Mary said.
Freddie couldn't ignore his attraction to men however, and the pair eventually split up as romantic partners, but they remained very close friends.
Freddie 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."
Signing a will in 1991, Freddie left half his vast £75million estate to Mary, including the £25million Georgian mansion in Kensington, leaving the rest to his parents and sister. Most of his friends, including his lover Jim Hutton, were given £500,000 each or a house.
Mary was at Freddie's bedside holding his hand when he passed away at the age of 45. She later carried out his wish to secretly scatter his ashes. While there have been many rumours of where she took the ashes, she never revealed the whereabouts.
Mary went on to have two children, Richard (of whom Freddie was godfather) and Jamie, born shortly after Freddie's death. Mary never married their father Piers Cameron, a painter.
"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," Mary, now 67, said. She has chosen to live her life out of the spotlight, not commenting much about Freddie over the years.
You can watch Mary in a rare interview about Freddie in a documentary from 2000, titled 'Freddie Mercury - The Untold Story' below: