The Prison Years
Initially incarcerated separately, their mother petitioned to have them reunited, and Ronnie joined Reggie at the maximum security Parkhurst Prison, on the Isle of Wight, early in 1972. Ronnie’s deteriorating mental health forced their separation some years later, when he was transferred to Broadmoor Prison. Whilst there he married twice, despite his life-long homosexuality: in 1985 to Elaine Mildener, and in 1989 to Kate Howard.
The mythology of the Kray twins continued to grow, despite their long incarceration, and a film made of their lives in 1990 netted the brothers substantial royalties.
Despite a number of campaigns to free the Kray twins, including a 10,000 signature petition sent to Downing Street in 1993, the establishment seemed determined to make an example of them, and attempts to have their sentences reduced, to reflect the actual crimes of which they had been committed, proved fruitless.
Ronnie Kray died of a heart attack on 17 March 1995, the result of a chronic nicotine addiction. Reggie was temporarily released to attend his funeral, which attracted thousands of onlookers, and was visibly devastated at his loss. Family claim he never completely recovered.
On 3 August 2000, Reggie Kray was diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the bladder, and given just weeks to live. Then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, approved his release on compassionate grounds and, finally free after 32 years in prison, he died on 1 October 2000.
His funeral cortege attracted even more onlookers than his brother’s had, with up to one hundred thousand people lining the East London route. In accordance with his wishes, Reggie was laid to rest in the same grave as his brother, Ronnie.