It has been a big year for the #FreeBritney movement, the social media campaign which seeks to free Britney Spears from the conservatorship that has prevented her from making any personal decisions for the last 12 years.
But, will 2021 be the year that Britney is finally freed?
Under the conservatorship, Britney’s father Jamie Spears has control of virtually every aspect of her life, from her finances to her medical records, from who can visit her to which work projects she can agree to.
The conservatorship was put in place under a temporary measure after Britney suffered from a breakdown in 2007, before being checked into a psychiatric hospital in 2008.
It was around a year later when the #FreeBritney movement began, among die-hard fans who became concerned for the pop icon’s well-being, questioning why the conservatorship was necessary after she was released from the mental health facility.
During the years that have passed since then, Britney has gone on multiple world tours, released several albums, had a residency in Las Vegas and had many TV appearances, but that all changed last year.
In April 2019, Britney pulled out of her Domination tour and checked into a wellness facility, at the time citing her father’s sudden illness for the reason, telling fans ‘you have to put family first’.
However, Britney fans pushing the #FreeBritney movement became increasingly concerned after an anonymous tip from someone claiming to be a paralegal, who previously worked with the attorney connected to the conservatorship.
The source said Jamie had found out Britney was skipping doses of her medication or just not taking it all. When the doctor suggested switching to a different medication, Britney allegedly refused, to which Jamie said, ‘Either you take this medication or the show’s off, and I’m pulling my support and you can’t do it’.
They went on to say that Britney refused to comply, which is why the tour got cancelled, and Britney was told to blame it on her father’s illness, E! reports.
It came after Jamie filed a notice of intent to extend the conservatorship – which had previously only existed in California – to three more states; Louisiana, Hawaii and Florida.
However, later that year Jamie was forced to step down as the primary conservator after he was accused of physically abusing Britney’s then-14-year-old son Sean. Instead, Jodi Montgomery, Britney’s long time care manager took over responsibility.
In 2020, Britney started making moves to try and get out of her legal conservatorship; something which is an incredibly difficult challenge when you can’t even hire your own attorney without having to ask your conservator’s permission.
In July, the singer’s brother Bryan Spears confirmed her desires to get out of the conservatorship during an unusually candid appearance on the As NOT Seen on TV Podcast.
‘She’s always wanted to get out of it. It’s very frustrating to have – whether someone’s coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude – having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating,’ he said, adding that she’s ‘wanted to get out of it for some time’.
In August, Britney asked a court to remove Jamie from the role of conservator, requesting that Jodi Montgomery permanently take over the role. She also requested that a ‘qualified corporate fiduciary’ take over her finances instead of her father.
‘We are now at a point where the conservatorship must be changed substantially in order to reflect the major changes in her current lifestyle and her stated wishes,’ the court documents explained.
The request to have Jamie removed was denied and the temporary letters of Britney’s conservatorship were extended to February 2021.
However, the case took a big turn in October, when Britney was granted permission to hire her own legal team in the fight against her conservatorship – something which was previously denied by her father on the grounds of the cost of more lawyers.
Britney has since requested that the court filings be made public because she ‘strongly believes it is consistent not only with her personal best interests but also with good public policy generally that the decision to appoint a new conservator of her estate be made in as open and transparent a manner as possible’.
Last month, Britney’s attorney, Samuel D Ingham, told a court in Los Angeles that the pop icon refused to work while her father is still her conservator. During the hearing, Ingham said that ‘on many occasions’ Britney confessed she is ‘afraid’ of Jamie, adding that they have no ‘viable working relationship’ having not spoken to each other for a ‘long while’.
Britney’s mum Lynne Spears has since spoken out about wanting her ex-husband to be replaced as her daughter’s conservator.
With Jamie remaining as head of Britney’s estate until February, it’s impossible to say if and when she will finally be freed from the conservatorship. However, the #FreeBritney movement is one that continues to grow momentum, and with the world – and her own legal team, finally – behind her, who knows what could be possible in 2021.