Imagine being four years old and the aunty you adored, the aunty that you had kissed goodnight only the night before commits suicide. Heartbreaking, tragic. Yet imagine that your aunty was married to one of the most notorious criminals to come out of the UK.
Imagine the media circus, the rumours, the facts claimed – imagine growing up with that.
Imagine Hollywood producers releasing movies portraying your aunt nearly 50 years after the events ….falsely, wrongly, insultingly.
That’s what Frances Shea has had to deal with all her life, the aftermath of her aunt Frances Kray s suicide , books and newspapers printing her aunts suicide note which specifically mentions her and speculation disguised as “fact” on the most intimate details of her aunts personal life.
With the launch of legend last October starring Tom Hardy as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray and Emily Browning as Frances Shea a whole new wave of Krays mania gripped the nation and stirred painful memories.
But the problem was , with Frances being such a central character in the movie , not one member of the Shea family was contacted for any research into character portrayal. Even though they are still based in the East End where the movie was largely filmed.
Speaking out at the time , the media at first were interested in bits of the story but surprisingly have gone cold on someone who is able to provide personal insight into the woman who the media have portrayed as “The Tragic Bride” and her uncle, Reggie Kray the man not the monster.
Excuses range from she’s not famous enough to she was only four at the time but this is a woman who is family, who lived with her aunt , witnessed Reggie and Frances relationship first hand , who grew up being encouraged to hate the twins but learnt for herself the truth by reading her aunts diaries , before they were passed down to someone , not her, who promptly sold them to the highest bidder and betrayed the Shea family for profit.
Much has been made of these diaries and letters and they ve been used as evidence in books who don’t count the full aspect of Frances, the fact she suffered from mental illness and a lot of the writings were from when she was ill.
Frances herself has not only spoken to the press regarding her aunt who were more interested in sensationalising the story, but has set up a Facebook Group with the aim not only to humanise her aunt but to also highlight mental illness and how that was what prompted her suicide not as all claim the twins.
Of course, many people are unhappy with this and she has had to deal with the most horrific abuse from associates of the krays being called a “gold digger” despite the said associates living off the Krays name for over two decades when most of the stories released were done after the death of the twins and couldn’t be disputed.
Dont get me wrong im interested in every point of view , the associates too have a story to tell , they can recount what life was like inside the firm then , their stories are just as valid but their reactions at worst is the insinuation s against Reggie s beautiful wife Frances, ridicule of her suicide and later that of her brother. Including personal messages of abuse.
Over 2.5k member s of Frances group wish to hear the truth of Frances Shea and Reggie as would most Kray fans – it would be an insightful look into the world they lived in , a way to humanise them and most importantly a truthful account. Yet publishers aren’t rushing for her story and it makes you question why ? Is there something underhand going on to silence the Shea family?
Check out Frances full interview on