Mary Austin was born in 1951 in Fulham, West London. She was 19 when she first met Freddie. Until then her life had been deprived. Her parents were poor. Her father worked as a hand-trimmer for wallpaper specialists and her mother was a domestic for a small company. Both parents were deaf and communicated through sign language and lip-reading.
At 15 she left the school and began to work as a secretary.
It was while working as a customer PR at the trendy Biba store in London, where her customers included Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger, that she met Freddie and Roger Taylor, who ran a stall in nearby Kensington Market, selling old clothes and Freddie`s artwork. Mary still has one of his excellent drawings of Jimi Hendrix. Although Freddie was quite intimidating, Mary found herself fascinated by this `wild-looking artistic musician`. She says, `He was like no one I had ever met before. He was very confident and I have never been confident. We grew together. I liked him - and it went on from there.`
But when Freddie first asked her for a date on his 24th birthday, Mary pretended she was busy on that particular night.
`I was trying to be cool,` she recalls with a smile, `not because there was any real reason I couldn`t go. But Freddie wasn`t put off. We went out the next day instead. He wanted to go and see Mott The Hoople at the Marquee Club in Soho. Freddie didn`t have much money then and so we just did normal things like any other young people. There were no fancy dinners - they came later when he hit the big time. It took about three years for me to really fall in love. But I had never felt that way about anyone.`
She first shared a £10-a-week bedsit with Freddie in Victoria Road, Kensington. After two years together they moved to a larger, self-contained flat in Holland Road, which cost them £19 a week. By then Queen had signed a record deal and had their first big hit, Seven Seas Of Rhye.
It was at a showcase held at Ealing College of Art, Freddie`s old art school, that Mary first recognised his star quality.
Mary remembers the first time she took Freddie, with his thick mane of long, black hair, home to meet her father in their terraced Fulham home. "I hadn`t warned my father how extraordinary looking Freddie was and so I think my father handled the situation very well. Sadly, my mother never met Freddie as she had died four years earlier. My father opened the door and just stayed very calm and treated Freddie very warmly. There were a few glances and comments from the neighbours. Afterwards I realised bringing home this musician must have been quite a shock for him.`
It was after they had moved to their second flat in Holland Road that Mary first started to think something was going wrong with their six-year relationship.
Everything changed one day when Freddie told her he had something important to say, something that would change their whole relationship forever. Mary explains, `Being a bit naive, it had taken me a while to realise the truth. Afterwards he felt good about having finally told me he was bisexual.` Mary decided to move out, but Freddie insisted she shouldn`t move too far from him. After a six-year relationship, Freddie and Mary split up in 1980.
Mary and Freddie keep their friendship through all his life, even he was the godfather of her oldest son, and long before he told any of his close friends or the fellow members of Queen that he had AIDS, Freddie confided his secret to Mary. From that moment Mary had been his bedrock and a particular comfort in his final years, leading up to his death in 1991. Mary juggled looking after her son Richard and spending time with her then partner, Piers Cameron, with attending to Freddie as he suffered the final stages of AIDS. At the same time she was preparing for the birth of a second baby, Jamie.
Long before he told any of his close friends or the fellow members of Queen that he had AIDS, Freddie confided his secret to Mary. From that moment she was there each day to try to comfort him as he gradually became more ill. Realising he was starting to lose his sight and with his body becoming so weak that finally he couldn`t even get out of bed, Freddie decided to face up to dying by refusing to take his medication.
Mary, whose life is no longer such a struggle, today shares her magnificent house with Nick, the London businessman she married two years ago. Without telling anyone, they wed on Long Island with just Mary`s two sons, Richard and Jamie, by their side.