Freddie Mercury's fans were devastated when he revealed to the world he was battling AIDS.

Just 24 hours after the Queen frontman told the world he had been diagnosed with the disease he passed away at his home in London.

A famously private man, Freddie had been determined to keep his illness a secret, only telling those closest to him.

But as rumours intensified after he was pictured looking gaunt and frail, the Bohemian Rhapsody singer decided to open up to the world.

His simple statement said: "Following enormous conjecture in the press, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have Aids.

Freddie at the BRITS in 1990, the year before his death
Freddie at the BRITS in 1990, the year before his death

"I felt it correct to keep this information private in order to protect the privacy of those around me.

"However, the time has now come for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth, and I hope everyone will join with me, my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease."

The cruel disease had ravaged the superstar's body with his Queen bandmate Brian May revealing in 2017 that Freddie had lost his foot because of it.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, May said: "The problem was actually his foot, and tragically there was very little left of it.

"Once, he showed it to us at dinner. And he said, 'Oh Brian, I'm sorry I've upset you by showing you that'.

Freddie had told his Queen bandmates about his illness
Freddie had told his Queen bandmates about his illness

"And I said, 'I'm not upset, Freddie, except to realise you have to put up with all this terrible pain'."

And for the final two years of his life, Freddie lived in almost total seclusion.

In his final appearance in a Queen video in the same year he died, the rock powerhouse looked visibly thin and frail.

And those closest to Freddie, including his friend and personal assistant Peter Freestone, have explained how the star himself struggled to face up to what was happening to him.

Peter, who was nicknamed Phoebe by Freddie, said: "Freddie knew about the HIV/AIDS virus appearing around the world, and knew of friends dying from the disease, so obviously that played on his mind.

Freddie with his good friend and personal assistant, Peter Freestone
Freddie with his good friend and personal assistant, Peter Freestone

"He might have thought he was infected, but again, like many of us, he put it to the back of his mind, thinking ‘it won’t happen to me’.

"You must remember in those days it really was a death sentence, it still is today, but now the end can be put off."

Freddie, who lost his battle against AIDS on November 24, 1991, is thought to have first realised he was ill four years earlier.

But he put off having his suspcions confirmed for as long as possible.

In the end it was Mary Austin, who Freddie described as the love of his life and who remained his close friend even after the couple broke up, who persuaded him to go for a test.

Freddie with Mary Austin, who he described as "the love of my life"
Freddie with Mary Austin, who he described as "the love of my life"

Peter explained: "Freddie had a biopsy taken on a mark in his hand. Freddie’s doctor tried to call Freddie, who just didn’t want to take the call.

"Eventually the doctor called Mary and told her he had to speak to Freddie urgently, so Mary then had to persuade Freddie to speak to his doctor.

"I’m sure Freddie had an idea what the doctor was going to say, so didn’t want to hear the diagnosis."

Freddie made the heartbreaking decision to stop taking his AIDS medication when he returned from a trip to Switzerland early in November 1991.

But even in his final days, Freddie was determined to think of others and spent his last days recording Queen's final album, Made In Heaven, which was released following his death.

Freddie performing at Live Aid
Freddie performing at Live Aid

Freddie also bought thoughtful Christmas presents, which were delivered after he passed away.

One of them was for his close friend, Elton John, who was one of the few people he allowed to visit him in his final weeks.

It was a painting by Henry Scott Tuke, one of the Candle In The Wind singer's favourite artists.

The piece of art was wrapped in a pillow case and was accompanied with a heartbreaking note.

It read: "Dear Sharon, I thought you'd like this. Love, Melina. Happy Christmas."

Freddie's mum, sister and partner, Jim Hutton
Freddie's mum, sister and partner, Jim Hutton

This was an adorable nod to the pair's nicknames for one another as they had given each other drag queen names.

Elton said: "By all rights, Freddie should have spent those final days concerned only with his own comfort. But that wasn't who he was. He truly lived for others

"Freddie had passed on November 24, 1991, and weeks after the funeral, I was still grieving. On Christmas Day, I learnt that Freddie had left me one final testament to his selflessness.

"I was moping about when a friend showed up at my door and handed me something wrapped in a pillowcase.

"I opened it up, and inside was a painting by one of my favourite artists, the British painter Henry Scott Tuke. And there was a note on the front from Freddie.

"Years before, Freddie and I had developed pet names for each other, our drag-queen alter egos. I was Sharon and he was Melina. Freddie's note read, 'Dear Sharon, I thought you'd like this. Love, Melina. Happy Christmas.'

"I was overcome, 44 years old at the time, crying like a child. Here was this beautiful man, dying from AIDS, and in his final days, he had somehow managed to find me a lovely Christmas present.

"As sad as that moment was, it's often the one I think about when I remember Freddie, because it captures the character of the man. In death, he reminded me of what made him so special in life."