Who were the Kray twins Ronnie and Reggie? – The Sun | The Sun

RONNIE and Reggie Kray were both notorious for their ruthless East End crime empire during the 1950s and 1960s.

But who were Ronnie and Reggie Kray, what crimes did they commit and how did they die? Here's everything you need to know.


Who were the Kray twins?

The identical twins were born within ten minutes of each other on October 24, 1933, in in Haggerston, East London.

They were born to parents Charles David Kray and Violet Annie Lee and grew up in the East End with their brother Charles.

The brothers also had a sister, named Violet who was born in 1929, however she sadly died in infancy.

Their father, also Charles, was a second-hand clothes dealer and went on the run to avoid military service.

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Their maternal grandfather Jimmy "Cannonball" Lee encouraged them to take up amateur boxing, a common pastime for working class boys in the area.

Sibling rivalry spurred them on, and they reportedly never lost a match before turning professional at the age of 19.

Ronnie was considered to be the more aggressive of the two twins, constantly getting into street fights as a teenager.

From the start the pair clashed with any authority – including the Army, which like their father they did their best to avoid.

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In 1952 they began their national service, but they were too wild for the military.

After assaulting the corporal in charge and several police officers, they managed to get a dishonourable discharge by throwing tantrums, dumping their latrine bucket over a sergeant and even handcuffing a guard to their prison bars.

With a criminal record their boxing careers were brought to an abrupt end, and they instead turned to a life of crime.

The twins became household names in 1964 when they were hit with an expose in the Sunday Mirror.

It insinuated that Ronnie had a sexual relationship with Lord Boothby, a Conservative politician.

No names were printed in the piece, but the twins threatened to sue the newspaper with the help of Labour Party leader Harold Wilson's solicitor Arnold Goodman.

The Mirror backed down, sacked its editor, issued an apology and paid Boothby £40,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

Because of this other newspapers were unwilling to expose the Krays' connection and criminal activities.

What crimes did the Kray twins commit?

In the early 50s the brothers started their gang, The Firm, which would shape their criminal activities.

Under The Firm umbrella they were involved in armed robberies, arson, protection rackets, assaults and murder over close to two decades.

Their brother Charlie provided the business brainpower behind the operations, while the twins became the public face of The Firm.

One of their first moves was to buy a run-down snooker club in Mile End, where they started several protection rackets.

Their hands-on approach to business landed them in trouble, with Ronnie convicted of GBH in the late 1950s.

In the 60s, they moved to the West End to run a gambling club, Esmerelda's Barn, in Knightsbridge.

They were widely seen as prosperous nightclub owners and part of the Swinging London scene, even persuading a peer to join them on the board to give the club a veneer of respectability.

As owners of Esmerelda's Barn, the twins quickly achieved celebrity status, and rubbing shoulders with the likes of lords, MPs, socialites and famous faces such as Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.

How long did the Kray twins spend in prison?

In March 1969, both Ronnie and Reggie were sentenced to life imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 30 years for two counts of murder of Cornell – the longest sentences ever passed at the Old Bailey.

Their brother Charlie was imprisoned for ten years for his part in the murders.

Ronnie Kray was classed as a Category A prisoner and was denied almost all liberties.

He was not allowed to mix with other prisoners.

Ronnie was eventually certified insane – his paranoid schizophrenia was treated with constant medication.

In 1979 he was committed and lived the remainder of his life in Broadmoor Hospital.

Reggie Kray was imprisoned in Maidstone Prison for eight years as a Category B prisoner.

In 1997, he was transferred to the Category C Wayland Prison in Norfolk.

Reggie Kray spent a total of 33 years behind bars, before being released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2000, at the age of 66.

He was released due to being diagnosed with inoperable bladder cancer.

Ronnie Kray spent the remainder of his life imprisoned in Broadmoor Hospital, up until his death in 1995.

How did the Kray twins get arrested?

The twins' fortunes changed when Ronnie Kray shot and killed George Cornell, a member of rival gang the Richardsons, at the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel.

No one was convicted for the 1966 killing at the time.

Then, in December of that year, the Krays helped Frank Mitchell escape from Dartmoor prison.

Once out, the Krays held him at a friend's flat in East Ham, London, but the "Mad Axeman" disappeared without trace.

Despite these public affrays, the Krays' criminal activities continued to be faintly hidden by their celebrity status and their more legitimate businesses.

But they would not be able to escape the consequences of their next actions.

Reggie was allegedly encouraged by his brother in October 1967 to kill Jack "the Hat" McVitie, a minor member of the Kray gang who had failed to fulfil a £1,000 contract to kill Leslie Payne.

They lured him to a flat in Stoke Newington on pretence of a party.

There Reggie stabbed McVitie in the face and stomach and killed him, driving the blade into his neck.

It was then that the tide turned against the Krays, with people concerned the same fate would meet them.

In the same year Detective Leonard "Nipper" Read reopened his case against them. He had met with a "wall of silence" when investigating the Krays before.

However, by the end of 1967 Read had built up enough evidence against the Krays, and on May 8, 1968, the Krays and 15 members of their gang were arrested.

How did the Kray twins die?

Ronnie remained in Broadmoor Hospital until his death on March 17, 1995, after suffering from a heart attack at the age of 61.

Reggie was released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2000, eight and a half weeks before his death from cancer.

Their reputation preceded them even in death, with onlookers crowding the streets to catch a glimpse of the famed gangster's coffin as it was taken through the East End.

Were the Kray twins married?

Ronnie Kray, who identified as bisexual, said he planned on marrying a woman named Monica in the 1960s, who he had dated for nearly three years.

He was arrested before he had the chance to marry Monica – who ended up marrying Ronnie's ex-boyfriend.

He married twice afterwards – to Elaine Mildener in 1985 at Broadmoor chapel, who he then divorced four years later.

Ronnie then married Kate Howard, who he also divorced in 1994.

His brother Reggie, first married Frances Shea in 1965.

However, just two years later, his wife committed suicide.

In 1997, Reggie married once again, this time to Roberta Jones who he met while still in prison.

Did the Kray twins have any children?

Neither Ronnie or Reggie had any children.

However, Sandra Ireson, a 64-year-old mother and grandmother, claims she is the daughter from a brief romance between Reggie and cabaret dancer Greta Harper in 1958.

She even tried to forge a relationship with the man she claimed to be her father, however, Reggie allegedly rejected Sandra’s attempt to forge a lasting relationship in fear of upsetting his wife, Roberta.

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