The swagger of Ronnie and Reggie Kray

There is an old east end swagger. A bravado, today faint whispers of a long-gone past.

For gangsters, Londoners (or those who still recall) still hold affection for the Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie.

After the Kray twins were imprisoned in 1969 for the murders of George Cornell and Jack ‘the hat’ McVitie, and knowing they would spend most of the the rest of their lives behind bars, they continued to have a certain swagger.

Debbie Harry visited. Yep, Blondie at the height of her fame. Richard Burton did too. I wasn’t impressed said Ronnie. I was taller than him.

They had salmon for lunch. They had velvet curtains in a prison cell. They ran businesses selling t-shirts and TV rights. When Gary Kemp, lead singer of 80s band Spandau Ballet visited Ronnie to learn about playing him in a new film, Ronnie said to him, I hope you’re not going to play me with that earring.

The Krays had funerals fit for a king. The whole of the old east end community came to mourn.

But then, for twins who were imprisoned in the Tower of London, I suppose they were used to being local royalty.

This content features in the guided tour of the east end of London called the Whitechapel walk. Book your place here.

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