Freddie Mercury’s mum discusses Bohemian Rhapsody in 2004
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Next Wednesday will mark 30 years since Freddie Mercury’s death from AIDS at the premature age of just 45. The Queen singer left behind a lasting legacy, and an abundance of songs that remain loved around the world today. The documentary ‘Freddie Mercury: In His Own Words’ airs on Sunday evening on Channel 5. From the early days of Queen, through to the show-stopping Live Aid performance, the documentary covers the amazing story of Freddie’s life and career.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest singers in the history of rock music, if not music as a whole, Freddie’s larger-than-life stage persona won him hundreds of millions of fans.
Just one of those fans was the late Princess Diana, who struck up a friendship with him and a host of other musicians including Elton John.
Diana was a trailblazer in that respect, regularly venturing out with artists and celebrities, and bringing a fresh, youthful spirit to the Royal Family.
Although her friendship with Elton was widely known, less was known about the friendship she enjoyed with the Queen frontman until recently.
Actress Cleo Rocos, who also enjoyed a close friendship with Diana, recalled an incredible story about the pair in her 2013 memoir — The Positive Power of Drinking.
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Ms Rocos recalled one evening in the Eighties she spent with Diana, Freddie and comedian Kenny Everett at his London home.
The group, she wrote, started the afternoon drinking champagne and watching Golden Girls, while coming up with their own racy storylines.
Diana, Cleo wrote, asked her three friends what they had planned for the rest of the evening.
They had planned to go to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, an iconic gay club in London.
Diana allegedly surprised her friends by asking to join them.
Still married to Prince Charles at the time, Diana was the future Queen. Cleo wrote: “We pleaded, ‘What would be the headline if you were caught in a gay bar brawl?
“But Diana was in full mischief mode. Freddie said, ‘Go on, let the girl have some fun.’”
They attempted to disguise Diana by dressing her in male clothes, and wouldn’t go anywhere until they were convinced she would “pass for a rather eccentrically dressed gay model”.
Cleo described Diana as “looking like a beautiful young man”.
They succeeded in their mission to disguise her. Given Freddie’s superstar status, they managed to sneak past the crowds and into the bar.
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Cleo continued: “We inched through the leather throngs and thongs until finally, we reached the bar.
“We were nudging each other like naughty schoolchildren.
“Diana and Freddie were giggling, but she did order a white wine and a beer.
“Once the transaction was completed, we looked at one another, united in our triumphant quest. We did it!”
The validity of the story has, however, been questioned. Freddie’s PA and close friend Peter Freestone previously claimed that the singer “never met” the Princess.
Cleo, however, admitted to having “fantastic memories of drinking with Princess Diana” in a 2013 interview with The Independent.
She said: “She would regularly sneak out on her own, in disguise, to go to places round the corner from the Palace.
“I remember drinking peach Bellinis with her, Kenny and Freddie Mercury at the Bombay Brasserie nearby, before we all went up to Kenny’s penthouse to continue drinking.
“I’ll never forget watching Diana, Kenny and Freddie dancing around the lounge to the Gypsy Kings, each waving one of Kenny’s feather dusters in the air.”
Freddie’s death in 1991, the first major rock star to die of AIDS, marked an important event in the history of the disease.
Diana herself made significant strides to de-stigmatise AIDS, and was the first British royal figure to touch a patient.
Prince Harry has continued his mother’s work, helping to raise awareness of the disease and publicise testing.
Freddie Mercury: In His Own Words airs on Channel 5 on Sunday at 9pm.
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