The Britney Spears saga could soon become a thing of the past after a surprise twist in the pop star’s seemingly endless court case.
After battling the outcome for months, Britney’s father Jamie Spears filed court documents on Wednesday, requesting to end the 39-year-old singer’s 13-year conservatorship.
He said his daughter’s circumstances had changed “to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist”.
And for inexplicable reasons, actor Drew Barrymore has thanked Britney’s supporters.
“I appreciate all the people that have been supporting Britney on social media,” Barrymore told Entertainment Tonight on Wednesday.
The 46-year-old actor said she had sent Britney “personal videos” and felt it was important to reach out directly, not just on social media.
“[I wanted to] really show her I’m someone who has understood what a journey is like and I don’t compare myself to her, but I’m here to support her if there’s anything she needs in private,” Barrymore said.
But has Britney responded to any of these “private” messages?
Barrymore said there have been “little smoke signals” – whatever that means.
It has been a rollercoaster ride lasting more than a decade, but here is a breakdown of the battle for Britney’s freedom.
Ready to break
Let’s start from the beginning.
In 2007, the pop superstar had a public mental breakdown. She partied a lot, shaved her head and started speaking with a fake British accent.
She lost custody of her two kids, Sean and Jayden, and checked in to rehab.
Upset by the media scrutiny, fan Chris Crocker posted the Leave Britney alone video online.
“I know it’s hard to see Britney Spears as a human being,” Crocker said, “but trust me, she is.”
The following year, Britney was hospitalised twice for psychiatric evaluations.
Her dad was put in charge of her welfare, while lawyer Andrew Wallet was to run her finances. It was a temporary conservatorship, but was made permanent by the end of 2008.
The legal arrangement is typically used to protect the elderly, infirm or mentally disabled.
Rumours started circulating about her wellbeing in 2009. Reports suggested she wasn’t allowed to use social media unsupervised and was being held against her will.
Her friend Andrew Gallery claims she wrote to him about the ordeal, but Spears later said the letters were fake.
In January 2019, she announced an indefinite hiatus from performing. In April, #freebritney started trending.
Spears quickly responded with an Instagram video promising she was fine.
But in the next month, there was a closed court case and in July, singer Miley Cyrus started a “free Britney” chant during a Vegas concert.
Fans were increasingly suspicious and believed Spears was sending coded messages in her Instagram posts.
Cher tweeted: “Why is a woman being worked, if it’s known by her conservator that she’s not well enough to care for herself?”
In September 2019, Mr Spears relinquished control of her personal affairs, but was still in charge of her finances.
Court-appointed professional Jodi Montgomery was put in charge of Britney’s wellbeing.
In July 2020, Britney posted what some called a “hostage” video.
In November, her lawyer Samuel Ingham told a judge she would no longer perform and was “afraid of her father” and wanted him ousted, and her mother, Lynne Spears, called the relationship “toxic”.
In February 2021, the Framing Britney Spears documentary was released and Mr Spears was no longer allowed to invest her money.
In June, Britney broke her silence in court. She said the conservatorship was “abusive”.
“I’m not here to be anyone’s slave. I’m traumatised,” she said.
She said she wanted to get married and have a baby, but wasn’t allowed to have her birth control removed. And that she had been drugged with lithium and “felt drunk”.
She apologised to her fans on Instagram for lying about being OK.
“I did it because of my pride and I was embarrassed to share what happened to me,” she wrote.
Her lawyer and manager both quit.
Not your property
She has since spoken in court a second time, asking that her dad be charged for conservatorship abuse.
He responded by calling for an investigation into the claims, but later agreed to step down from his role – on his terms.
Spears was allowed to choose her lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, who accused Mr Spears of extorting his daughter by refusing to step down immediately.
He asked that Mr Spears be removed from his role as conservator, but said Ms Montgomery could continue caring for Britney’s wellbeing.
In the midst of all that, Britney was also investigated for allegedly assaulting a staff member. But Mr Rosengart rubbished the claim.
“Anyone can make an accusation,” he said.
On Wednesday, Mr Spears asked the court to end the whole conservatorship.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny has scheduled the next hearing in the case for September 29.