Peter “Phoebe” Freestone, Freddie Mercury’s close friend and personal assistant for twelve years, recalls Freddie Mercury’s final days, his shocking AIDS diagnosis, and his determination to die “on his own terms.” Peter Freestone lived with Freddie Mercury in his Kensington home, Garden Lodge, throughout the singer’s battle with AIDS and the final days of his life. Freestone was by Mercury’s side throughout his career’s rollercoaster ride.

Peter, who is a close friend of the remaining Queen band members and was an official on-set advisor for the Oscar-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody, speaks candidly about his experiences living and working with Freddie on the official Freddie Mercury website through his dedicated channel “Ask Phoebe.” Peter, known to Freddie’s fans as Phoebe due to the nickname Freddie gave him, met Freddie Mercury in 1979 while working in the wardrobe department at the Royal Ballet.

Peter left his job a year later and joined Freddie Mercury as his full-time personal assistant in 1980, due to their “immediate friendship.” “I was Freddie’s head chef, bottle washer, waiter, butler, secretary, housekeeper, and agony aunt. I traveled the world with him, and I was with him through the highs and lows,” Peter says of the twelve years he worked for the celebrity before his passing. “When necessary, I served as his bodyguard, and in the end, I was one of his nurses.”

Peter, a close friend of the singer, shared his beloved Kensington home, Garden Lodge, with him for many years, along with his six cats and long-term partner Jim Hutton, before leaving it to his ex-girlfriend Mary Austin after the singer’s death in 1991. “Freddie’s Garden Lodge had a generally quiet atmosphere,” he recalls. “It was his home, so even though he hosted numerous parties for up to 200 guests, it was a place where he felt safe and didn’t have to watch what he said or did.

“In the morning, he could dress in a mismatched tracksuit, he could be silent if he wished, or he could come downstairs from his bedroom full of life. “Freddie was almost always with people who could make him laugh because he adored laughter.” “While Freddie was alive, it was the coziest, friendliest home I could have wished for. As Freddie stated, “it was not a museum; it was a home to be lived in and enjoyed.” It was exquisitely decorated and filled with exquisite furnishings. However, Peter’s recollections of Garden Lodge were intertwined with the presence of Freddie, and he recalled that the house’s atmosphere changed after the star’s passing.

“As soon as Freddie passed away, it lost the warm glow that Freddie had bestowed upon it,” he explains. Peter provides remarkable insight into Freddie’s feelings toward AIDS before he was diagnosed with the disease, revealing that Freddie had naturally hoped it would never happen to him. “Freddie was aware of the global spread of the HIV/AIDS virus and knew of friends who had died from the disease, so this was obviously on his mind. “He may have suspected he was infected, but, like most of us, he pushed the thought to the back of his mind, reasoning that ‘it won’t happen to me.’ You must remember that it was a death sentence back then, and it still is today, but the end can now be delayed.

Peter explains, “I believe Freddie knew he was ill by the start of 1987, but he waited as long as possible to confirm it.” Mary Austin, Freddie’s ex-girlfriend and lifelong confidante, persuaded the singer to visit the physician who diagnosed him in late April 1987. Peter recalls that Freddie had a biopsy performed on a mark on his hand. “Freddie’s doctor attempted to call him, but he refused to take the call. “Eventually, the doctor called Mary to inform her that he needed to speak with Freddie immediately, so Mary had to convince Freddie to speak with his physician.

“Freddie knew what the doctor was going to say, so he didn’t want to hear the prognosis,” he recalls. Peter reflects that as Freddie’s illness progressed, he knew the end was near, and confirms that the singer’s famous public statement confirming his AIDS diagnosis on November 22 – and his death within 24 hours of the announcement – were merely an extraordinary coincidence. “There was a plan to make the announcement prior to Freddie’s death, but it never materialized,” he says.

“After Freddie returned from Switzerland on 10 November 1991 and made the decision to discontinue his medication, he obviously considered making the statement. “He made all his arrangements. “I believe he simply felt and realized it was his time,” he says. “Freddie and [Queen’s manager] Jim Beach had discussed this for a considerable amount of time, but now it was time to make the official announcement.

“Jim had to travel to the United States, and they basically found a window of opportunity to finish it before his departure. Peter recalls that the statement was released to the public at 8:00 p.m. on November 22. On November 24, 1991, at the age of 45, Freddie Mercury died at his Kensington home, Garden Lodge, of bronchial pneumonia caused by complications related to AIDS. Peter states that there was no indication at the time that Freddie would pass away so quickly. “We all knew it could not be too long, but Freddie’s doctor said he could remain with us for several more days. I believe that Freddie decided he had had enough and that it was time for him to leave on his own terms.

“He was, I believe, at peace with himself. Freddie chose to discontinue his medication on his own accord. He knew the consequences of his actions and had the opportunity to say goodbye to friends and family. No one knew how much time he had left on November 10, but he must have been aware of how his body felt as the days passed. Peter recalls Freddie’s final days and his request to take one last look at his beloved Kensington home in the days preceding his death. “Freddie was downstairs in Garden Lodge on November 20 to view some of his artworks for the last time,” he explains.

“Terry [Freddie’s bodyguard and chauffeur] carried him down the stairs, but he walked around the living room and Japanese room while being supported by one of us. “He described how and when he acquired a few of the items [in his residence]. During those final days, there was a quiet atmosphere in the house, but Freddie remained the same person we knew him to be. While Freddie’s life was marked by a very public persona, Peter reflects that, in death, the star has been granted the privacy he so often desired while alive. Peter explains, “As far as I am aware, only one person knows the precise location of Freddie’s ashes, which was his wish.”

“His funeral was as low-key as could be expected for a global superstar. It was limited to a handful of his closest friends and relatives, with the family outnumbering the friends by a factor of four. “Freddie never discussed his funeral during his lifetime. “As he stated in an interview, he didn’t really care what happened after he died,” Peter says, referring to the famous video of the Queen frontman joking about his own demise. As Peter remembers him, Freddie was a multifaceted and caring character with great depth and personality offstage. “He had some wonderful friends with whom he enjoyed spending time.

“However, he also had a serious side; he worked diligently and donated large sums of his hard-earned money to various charities,” he says. Peter recalls, “I believe he would never want to be remembered as a mere mortal.” “He told Jim Beach, ‘Do whatever you want with my legacy, but never make me dull.’” When a fan asks Peter what his most cherished memory of Freddie Mercury is, the musician’s longtime friend gives a surprising and moving response. “The times when he was laughing at home have always stood out to me,” Peter says.

“This may sound mundane, but whenever you see Freddie smiling or laughing during an interview, he always covers his teeth with his upper lip or raises his hand to his mouth. This was because he despised his teeth and constantly attempted to conceal them. “At home, he was not self-conscious around his friends; he would simply throw his head back and laugh out loud with his mouth wide open. Those were the times when the warm, humorous, and relaxed man could appear without fear of strangers observing him without his Freddie Mercury – Rock Star persona.

Peter Freestone addresses the unusual decision to reveal so many details and secrets about his close friend’s private life and passing by stating, “[Many people] say that Freddie always guarded his privacy while he was alive, and now here I am giving away everything that Freddie never spoke about.” “It is true that throughout his life, Freddie desired privacy and kept his private life to himself and a small group of close friends. He also knew and predicted that after his passing, people would think and say many untrue things. He stated at the time that he wouldn’t care because he wouldn’t be present.

“He isn’t here in person, but the person so many people loved and admired for his music and presence is still here,” Peter says, adding, “I just feel it’s better that the truth is out there so that everyone can make up their own minds…and get to know the real Freddie Mercury.” Sir Elton John discussed Freddie Mercury’s valiant fight against the 1991-killing disease with which he was afflicted. “In the weeks following the funeral, I was still in mourning,” he recalls. “On Christmas Day, I discovered that Freddie had left me one final demonstration of his altruism. “While I was moping, a friend knocked on my door and handed me something wrapped in a pillowcase. A painting by one of my favorite artists, the British painter Henry Scott Tuke, was inside when I opened it. And there was a note from Freddie on the front…”


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