For the longest time, it seemed as though Britney Spears’ dark days were finally behind her. After suffering a much-publicized breakdown in 2007 and 2008, the Princess of Pop came out on top, taking home one award after another and landing a four-year Las Vegas residency that grossed nearly $138 million.
In February 2019, Spears was set to return to the Las Vegas Strip for Piece of Me’s follow-up, Domination. However, she announced a month before the scheduled kickoff date that she would be taking an indefinite work hiatus to care for her ailing father, Jamie Spears, who underwent a life-threatening surgery after his colon spontaneously ruptured the previous fall.
Britney subsequently went dark on social media, only posting in mid-January 2019 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her debut album, …Baby One More Time. She did not return until April 2019, when she posted on Instagram that she was taking “a little ‘me time.’” Within minutes, news broke that Britney had quietly checked into a California mental health facility in late March for a 30-day stay. A source told Us Weekly exclusively that the Grammy winner decided to seek help after the stress of her dad’s hospitalization and the complex process of changing the medications she had been taking for an undisclosed mental illness.
The news rocked the Britney Army, which began speculating about the pop star’s well-being and picking up the #FreeBritney movement launched by the cohosts of a podcast dedicated to Britney’s Instagram. Her sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, was quick to shut down unfounded rumors surrounding the “Toxic” singer, writing via Instagram, “I have been here long before anyone else, and I’ll be here long after. I love my sister with everything I have. So, anyone or anything that speaks to the contrary can GTFOH with all the comments about what you don’t understand. Do not come for me or the ones I love anymore.” Britney herself spoke out later that day, assuring fans in a video message that “all is well.”
The Crossroads actress has been unable to make major personal or financial decisions in her life without the approval of her father since a court-approved conservatorship was put in place in February 2008 after her meltdown and divorce from Kevin Federline, with whom she shares sons Preston and Jayden. As a result, co-conservators Jamie and attorney Andrew Wallett had long been credited with saving Britney’s life. Wallett abruptly resigned in March 2019, leaving Jamie as the sole conservator until he temporarily stepped down that September following an alleged altercation with Preston. (Jamie was later cleared of wrongdoing.) Licensed fiduciary Jodi Montgomery has since assumed Jamie’s position, though he still has partial control of Britney’s estate.
Britney spoke out against her conservatorship for the first time in June 2021. “The main reason why I’m here is because I want to end the conservatorship without being evaluated,” she said during a court hearing, adding: “I just want my life back. It’s been 13 years, and it’s enough.”
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With reporting by Marjorie Hernandez