Freddie Mercury’s funeral covered by BBC News in 1991
While the world mourned a larger than life superstar, a small group of family and friends attended a very special ceremony that was a million miles away from Freddie’s public persona. Before he died, the star specified that he wanted traditional Zoroastrian rites, according to the customs of his family and ancestors. The entire ceremony was conducted in the historical language Avestan, which originated in the Persian Empire and is two and a half thousand years old. The ceremony took place at West London Crematorium and the only words in English were to ask the mourners to stand and sit. SCROLL DOWN TO HEAR MARY TALK ABOUT HER LOVE FOR FREDDIE
The funeral was an extremely small and private affair, with less than 40 people invited. The guests included the star’s bandmates and their wives, as well as Elton John, Mary Austin and Freddie’s partner Jim Hutton. In the news footage, Brian May can be seen hugging Freddie’s long-term live-in PA and friend Peter Freestone.
A single red rose was placed on top of the coffin, which was carried into the chapel to the sounds of Aretha Franklin’s recording of Precious Lord Take My Hand. The enormous numbers of flowers sent by friends and fans filled five hearses and were sent on to AIDS wards afterward.
The 25-minute ceremony ended with Freddie’s favourite opera aria, Verdi’s D’amour sull ‘ali Rose sung by his dear friend Montserrat Caballé.
After the cremation, Mary took the ashes, according to Freddie’s explicit wishes. It was two years before she finally buried them.
READ MORE: Freddie Mercury’s final days described by his ‘eternal love’ Mary
Where is Freddie Mercury buried?
Only Mary Austin knows where Freddie Mercury buried
Years before he died, the star had said of his burial plans in typical style, “If I want a pyramid in Kensington and I can afford it, I’ll have it.” In the end, though, he did the exact opposite.
Not even Freddie’s family ever knew his final resting place, although Mary gave them one final opportunity to say goodbye.
Mary said: “He suddenly announced one day after Sunday lunch, ‘I know exactly where I want you to put me. But nobody is to know because I don’t want anyone to dig me up.’ Those were his exact words, ‘I just want to rest in peace.'”
For two years after the funeral, Mary kept the urn in Freddie’s bedroom at One Garden Lodge, his West Kensington mansion which he left to her in his will..
During that time, Mary admitted she almost never went in the room, because the memories of his final days in bed there were too vivid and painful.
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Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin at his 35th birrthday
In fact, Mary later admitted it was five years before she could bear to be in the room, even though she and her family had made the rest of the house their home – and she lives there to this day.
When Mary finally decided it was time to bury the ashes, she invited Freddie’s parents to the house to say final prayers in his memory.
After that, she planned an extraordinary stealthy way to take the ashes out without anyone knowing, or following her.
Mary said: “One morning, I just sneaked out of the house with the urn. It had to be like a normal day, so the staff wouldn’t suspect anything — because staff gossip. They just cannot resist it. But nobody will ever know where he is buried because that was his wish.”
She went out alone, not taking a driver, and carried the ashes in a nondescript plastic bag.
To this day nobody else knows where she buried Freddie’s last remains.
She explained: “He didn’t want anyone trying to dig him up, as has happened to some famous people. Fans can be deeply obsessive. He wanted it to remain a secret, and it will remain so.”
Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin in 1987
Many fans believe there was only ever one place that Freddie’s ashes could ever be laid to rest.
Garden Lodge was the star’s refuge, found for him by Mary when he asked her to locate the home that would be his sanctuary for the rest of his life.
He said of it: “When I’m old and grey and when everything is finished and I can’t wear the costumes and jig around on stage anymore, I’ll have something to fall back on and that’s this wonderful house.”
Instead, it was his refuge when he became sick and it was the place he died, surrounded by those who loved him most.
Freddie Mercury life and death dates
Fans suspect that Freddie would only have wanted to be laid to rest in one place – his beloved home.
He even had a favourite spot in the garden, underneath the beautiful cherry blossom tree, where he would often sit and rest in his final months.
Fans are convinced that is where Mary scattered his ashes and that the other story was an elaborate ruse to throw everyone off the scent and make sure Freddie really could rest in peace.