Iconic villain "Mad" Frankie Fraser is to be commemorated with one of the highest possible accolades that any mere mortal could ever aspire to when he departs his long and colourful life - a state funeral.
The news which was announced today by Downing Street and Buckingham Palace means that the elderly gangster will be the very first person in the entire history of the United Kingdom ever to have such a huge honour bestowed on him without having been a senior member of the Royal Family or held high office.
The taxpayer funded tribute will place the crooked cockney pensioner in the same realms of British history as such legendary national figures as Nelson, Wellington, Gladstone and Winston Churchill. However, the news broke amidst fears that the magnificence and grandeur of Fraser's funeral could be in jeopardy due to the severity of the global recession.
Fraser, 88, who was awarded the M.B.E in last year's New Years Honours List for services to the underworld, is currently said to be "in splendid health" and was pictured recently dining with The Duke of Westminster at London's swish Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, and enjoying drinks with Madonna at The Café De Paris. He is also said to be looking forward to a holiday in the Costa Del Sol as a guest of His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain.
A Downing Street spokesman told The Spoof, "We would like to stress that this announcement is not intended to indicate any concerns about Mad Frankie's state of health, his well-being is not in question, however, in view of the economic crisis it was considered necessary to start planning it now as arranging an event likely to be attended by all the crowned heads of Europe will prove costly and take a long time to plan, but it is sincerely to be hoped that the funeral itself will not take place for many years to come".
The Queen and David Cameron are both in discussions with Fraser's family regarding the arrangements for the service which will be conducted at Westminster Abbey by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is thought that the overall arrangements will be handled by The Co-Op Funeral Service in Clapham and will be a traditional gangland send-off with the cortege following a horse drawn brewery dray through the streets of London. It is understood that the day of the funeral will be declared a public holiday.
However, with such enormous pressure on the public purse, it is expected that some over-stretched taxpayers may be concerned about a huge sum of public money being spent to celebrate the life of a man who is technically a homicidal criminal with a lifetime of violent convictions under his belt. The Prime Minister's office has sought to relieve public anxiety by releasing a statement which said: "We don't think we'll have to raise taxes, well not by much anyway - or close any schools or hospitals to pay for this but we're not promising anything. The finer details have yet to be decided but whatever happens, the state funeral of Mad Frankie Fraser will go ahead as planned"
Fraser is one of a dying breed of celebrated London mobsters famed for all manner of sadistic shenanigans. He is the only surviving member of infamous Lavender Hill Mob of the 1950s which also included Sid James and Sir Alec Guinness. During the swinging 60s, he was also a member of The Richardson gang, viscous rivals of The Kray Twins. He was involved in The Great Train Robbery and The Blue Murder at St Trinian's of the 60s, and The Great Rock and Roll Swindle of the 70s. He would also have been involved in The Brinks Mat Bullion Robbery of 1983 had he not been appearing in Pantomime in Margate at the time.
Once described by legendary detective Nipper Read as "The Archduke of London's gangland high society", Fraser has spent 42 years of his life in dozens of different jails for an impressive catalogue of criminal offences. He is the veteran of a number of prison riots, and the only surviving person to have been apprehended by Sherlock Holmes. He is also the only man in Great Britain to have been detained at Alcatraz. Fraser once even stole the Crown Jewels from The Tower of London but these days he is best known for his guest appearances in the film Hard Men and on TV's "Shooting Stars", "Loose Women" and "Last of The Summer Wine"
Born in Lambeth in November 1923, he was christened Mad Francis Claremont Shaftsbury Fraser, he is the elder brother of renowned author, Lady Antonia Frazer. In her book "Mad Frankie Fraser: Prince Among Men" Fraser's biographer, Penny Junor, who has also written biographies of The Royal Family, confirmed that Fraser received his first custodial sentence at the tender age of four when he was sentenced to a year in Borstal for "Picking a pocket or two."
At the age of 10 he was sentenced at The Old Bailey to 10 years hard labour on Dartmoor following his involvement in a smash and grab on a Bond Street jewelers. To this day, Fraser insists he would never have been caught had his get away vehicle not toppled over in the ensuing police chase. "That's when I first realised the old bill were all scrotes" recalled Fraser years later in an interview with Michael Parkinson "It was their fault that my horse and cart tipped over, and I never got it back when I was paroled either. The slaaags!"
Having absconded from the army during World War Two, Fraser quickly climbed the criminal career ladder back in war torn London peddling smuggled nylons and bananas to ration stricken housewives, forging ration books and refusing to dig for victory or put black-outs over his windows. He soon became no stranger to Britain's jails, serving sentences in Pentonville, Wandsworth, Wormwood Scrubs, Parkhurst, Strangeways and Slade Prison, which was the location of 1970s fly on the wall documentary "Porridge". In fact, Norman Stanley Fletcher, the inmate who was the main focus of the show, was a personal friend of Mad Frankie Fraser.
It was while serving a sentence at Slade that Fraser recorded the first of his albums of traditional cockney music hall songs entitled "Sing-Along-A-Ten-Stretch" which was catapulted to the top of the UK album charts in 1979. A second album, "Sing-Along-And-Sew-Mailbags" was recorded at 1981, followed by "Sing-Along-And-Rip-Some-Scrote's-Teeth-Out-With-Pliers" in 1982. Later that year, he was set to duet with Stevie Wonder on the Number 1 hit single "Ebony and Ivory" However, as Fraser was detained at Durham Jail, Paul McCartney had to step in and sing Fraser's vocals at the last minute.
Now a great grandfather, and retired from a lifelong career of torture, murder, maiming and mayhem - Fraser is enshrined in the public consciousness as a national treasure. Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, once described him as "A prime example of British gangland menace at it's very best". Prince Charles praised him as "An enduring reminder of the golden age of villains and organised crime."
All state funerals are usually attended by the Queen and it has been confirmed that The Queen will be in attendance. What is not known yet is whether the usual tradition of a military procession and a public lying in state will be upheld. However, an official involved in the funeral arrangements told The Scoop "The arrangements are still in their early stages and it is not known if there will be a lying in state as yet. It has been thought that instead of a military procession - it might be more fitting for there to be a procession of all the coppers who ever nicked or investigated Mr Fraser during his career in criminality, although many of them have died or are elderly now so nothing is certain as yet". "Obviously, the most important thing is that the tribute is as magnificent as befits a gentleman of Mr Fraser's status."
Nobody was available for comment at Mr Fraser's home in London's Belgravia today.