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The BBC's Jon Silverman
"It was a traditional gangland send-off"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Funeral tributes for Kray
Reggie Kray funeral cortege
Crowds stood in silence as the cortege moved by
Thousands of mourners have gathered in the East End for the funeral service of Reggie Kray, one of London's most notorious gangsters.

Kray, who died at the age of 66 after a long battle against bladder cancer, has been buried in the family plot, alongside his twin, Ronnie, and older brother Charlie.

After the funeral service at St Matthews Church in Bethnal Green, the cortege arrived at Chingford Mount Cemetery shortly before 1500 BST - an hour later than expected.

Reggie Kray
Reggie Kray had planned his own funeral
Around 200 people watched as the coffin was placed by the graveside and then slowly lowered into the ground, while security men surrounded the area.

Earlier at the funeral service, Kray's solicitor Mark Goldstein told the congregation that the image of Kray portrayed in the media was unfair.

"I have first-hand knowledge of his kindness and generosity," said Mr Goldstein.

"Reg was an icon of the 20th century. A man who had the ability to draw attention from the outside world."

One of Reggie Kray's favourite songs, My Way sung by Frank Sinatra, was played as the service concluded.

Crowds turn out

Spectators stood six-deep along Bethnal Green Road, where the funeral procession led by six black plumed horses began shortly after 1130 BST on Wednesday.

The organiser of the funeral security operation estimated that more than 100,000 people would turn out for the funeral service and burial.

Actress Barbara Windsor was a lifelong friend
Flowers from Kray's friend, actress Barbara Windsor

Kray's hearse was bedecked with flowers spelling the words "free at last".

The cortege moved along Bethnal Green Road at walking pace, turning into Valance Road, the street where the Krays lived as children.

Along the route the crowds lining the pavements stood in silence, many with heads bowed, while many shops were shut as a sign of respect.

'End of an era'

The congregation of several hundred mourners cheered and applauded as the coffin was brought into the church.

The coffin was followed by Kray's widow Roberta, close family members, and former gangland 'enforcer', 'Mad' Frankie Fraser, followed closely behind.

Locals had started to gather outside the church more than two hours before the service was due to begin.

Stewards await the arrival of the coffin
Stewards await the arrival of the coffin
Outside the undertakers, the pavement was covered with wreaths - some in the shape of boxing gloves and others in the shape of the letter 'R'.

One wreath of roses was from the EastEnders actress, and Kray's friend, Barbara Windsor.

Richard Grayston, 34, head of security for the funeral, said: "It is the end of an era. When we close the chapter. It is sad. I think this is the end of the whole Kray illusion."

Mr Grayston, who said he had been a friend of the Krays since he was young, said a number of former gangland figures would be in the cortege, including Frankie Fraser and Tony Lambrianou.

Life imprisonment

Many people have criticised the glamorisation of such notorious gangster killers.

Ronnie and Reggie enjoyed a dark celebrity status in their hey day, brushing shoulders with rich and famous stars including Judy Garland and Diana Dors.
The Krays
The Krays became Britain's best-known gangsters

The twins were eventually imprisoned after Reggie stabbed Jack "The Hat" McVitie to death in a flat in Stoke Newington and Ronnie, in a feud with a rival gang, shot George Cornell dead in the saloon bar of an East End pub.

They were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1969.

Reggie was released from prison in July on compassionate grounds to receive treatment at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital for cancer of the bladder.

His condition was terminal and he died at the Town House Hotel in Norwich earlier this month.

His wife Roberta, 41, was at his bedside.

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See also:

11 Oct 00 | UK
End of an era
01 Oct 00 | UK
Last of an infamous trio
01 Oct 00 | UK
Reggie Kray dies
26 Aug 00 | UK
Reggie Kray to be freed
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