Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read on arresting Kray twins in 1990
Ronnie and Reggie’s life has been reexamined in new docu-series Secrets of the Krays, which is currently airing exclusively on BritBox. It follows the story of the notorious London gangsters, reviewing their rise to prominence and grizzly downfall during the late Fifties and into the late Sixties. Known as much for their nightclubs as they were for their gruesome crimes, the Kray Twins wreaked havoc across the East End of London, alongside their gang known as The Firm.
They reign over the capital was eventually ended after Ronnie and Reggie, and other members of The Firm, were given life sentences after two men were murdered.
Among those who recalled their memories of the Kray Twins included former page three model Maureen Flanagan – who became close to the brothers when she began cutting their mother’s hair.
The Kray Twins were known to have an array of celebrity friends, including the likes of film legend Judy Garland, crooner Frank Sinatra, and much loved TV star Dame Barbara Windsor.
But Maureen told Express.co.uk that the brothers were left “annoyed” after Princess Margaret – the Queen’s younger sister – didn’t go to their bar after attending one of Dame Barbara’s film premieres.
Royal outrage: Kray Twins ‘annoyed’ at Princess Margaret after bar snub
The Kray Twins wreaked havoc on London
Maureen said: “They met Princess Margaret didn’t they. They met Margaret at a premiere, I think it was Barbara Windsor’s premiere, ‘Sparrows Can’t Sing’ [in 1963].
“But she didn’t go to the after-party, which annoyed both of them.
“Obviously, that would have been a feather in their caps if she had gone afterwards to their club but that didn’t happen.”
Margaret was well known for her party antics, particularly during her younger days, and would regularly rub shoulders with a host of stars during her life.
Maureen recalled another encounter the twins had, this time when they took Judy from the Royal Palladium in London, and whisked her off to the East End to give an impromptu performance to their mother.
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Ronnie and Reggie Kray
She said: “When she was over here, she was holed up in a hotel, she was appearing at the Palladium and she was very, very ill – like a little scarecrow, and I think at the time she had weeks to live.
“And they picked her up one night from the Palladium, and they said, ‘We’re going to take you out for the night.’ And she thought she was going to [some] clubs but they took her to Vallance Road.”
Vallance Road, in Bethnal Green, was where the Krays’ mother Violet lived, and was often a place where Ronnie and Reggie would stay.
Maureen added: “Her song was a favourite of their mother’s, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. And Mrs Kray had seen the Wizard of Oz and she absolutely loved Judy Garland.
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Princess Margaret with the Queen and Queen Mother
“Can you imagine knocking on the door to this little East End lady and them saying, ‘Mum we’ve got a surprise for you – we’ve brought you Judy Garland’.
“And Mrs Kray said, ‘That’s not Judy Garland!’ And Ronnie said, ‘No it is Mum! We’ve just picked her up from where she was doing her show and she’s going to sing for you.'”
Maureen was joined by the likes of other contributors on the documentary including Mickey Fawcett – who was a key member of the Firm – and Chris Lambrianou, who served 15 years in jail for his part in the murder of Jack “The Hat” McVitie in 1967.
Chris, who also spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk, said it was important the crimes of the Kray Twins, and the Firm, were not glamourised because ultimately people lost their lives.
His role in the Krays’ story saw him help dispose of Jack The Hat’s body, alongside his brother Tony and gangster Ronnie Bender.
Now a born-again Christian, Chris spent his time after his release changing his life around by ensuring he helped those who were trying to get out of the cycle of prison life.
Royal Family tree
It was while he was serving his sentence during the Seventies and Eighties that Chris “got rid of any idea that crime pays, because all you do is cause a lot of misery for your family, children, parents, wives”.
He said: “There is no glamour.
“When you’re sitting in a cell with pair of prison trousers on and a pair of prison boots, and a shirt you’ve been wearing most of the week and all you can do is look out of the window, that is your life.”
He added: “There is no glamour in it. You may have your clothes when you’re out but when you’re there you are just like all the rest. You’re on a treadmill. That’s the way I see it. But you can change.
“Because not all of those who have committed crimes are sinners, there are angels as well. Although they had bad names, and were gangsters or whatever, there were some decent people amongst them.
“They had to come to terms with losing their kids and everything else. I saw all the tears. and I saw the pain and that’s just life. You’re throwing it away.”
All three episodes of Secrets of The Krays are available exclusively on BritBox.