Following the release of his biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, you’d expect most people to have a fairly good grasp on some of the more outlandish moments of Freddie Mercury’s life. Yet this little tale, about Mercury and Princess Diana of Wales, is a story that too few people remember.
So, with that in mind, we thought we’d dig into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you the quite wonderful story of how Freddie Mercury once smuggled a drag-wearing Princess Diana into a nightclub to avoid paparazzi and have a bloody good time.
There are a few moments during Freddie Mercury’s illustrious career with Queen where he transcended rock and roll royalty and became a bonafide icon to everyone who saw him. Of course, most people will remember his and Queen’s unequivocal performance at Live Aid as one of those moments but it was the offstage antics that endeared many people to Mercury.
The flamboyant singer had a sense of humour almost as ferocious as his penchant for a party and that’s a few traits that the British public have always regarded very highly. It’s the kind of antics that sent Mercury from the singer of a rock band to a bonafide rock star.
It wasn’t just a facade either, Mercury was every bit the bouncing bundle of energy he appeared to be. As his fame grew and his infamy grew along with it, Mercury became a desirable attraction for those looking for a good time and he was never one to turn them down.
According to comedian Cleo Rocos, in her book The Power of Positive Drinking, Princess Diana was one of those people looking to escape through the mercurial singer. Diana and Freddie had become close friends and found a certain level of comfort in one another, away from their crazy lifestyles and constant attention, they provided a confidant and a giggle for each other, despite the bad influence Mercury appeared to be on the then-future Queen of England.
One night, Diana, Freddie, Rocos and a couple of other friends were allegedly hanging out together when they decided to head down to the “notorious” gay bar the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in South London. While Mercury would have arrived at the club to, what we imagine would be, a very elaborate fanfare that came with its own publicity-led problems. In the late ’80s, there isn’t a chance in hell Princess Diana could attend such a club (or indeed any club) without being across the front pages of the tabloids.
Determined to go and have some fun at the legendary venue, Mercury and the rest of the group decided to smuggle Diana into the club with a novel disguise. They decided to drag-up Diana and dressed her as a male model. Surely it wouldn’t work?
“When we walked in… we felt she was obviously Princess Diana and would be discovered at any minute. But people just seemed to blank her. She sort of disappeared. But she loved it,” remembers Rocos. “She did look like a beautiful young man.”
Rocos says Diana, when in drag, looked like a “rather eccentrically dressed gay male model.” It’s quite the endorsement of their work that it allowed Diana, easily one of the most famous women in the world with a face that everyone in Britain could have recognised, blend in alongside Mercury. She and Freddie spent the evening “giggling like naughty schoolchildren”.
Sadly, neither of the cultural icons are with us today to reflect on this moment of silliness. But at least we can all think back to this ludicrous moment when Freddie Mercury dressed Princess Diana as a “gay male model” to sneak into a nightclub. Those were the days, eh?