Britney Spears has shared – and subsequently deleted – a 22-minute voice note revealing new allegations about the 13 years she spent under a conservatorship that governed almost every aspect of her life. “They threw me away – that’s what I felt like, my family threw me away,” she said.
On 1 February 2008, Spears was involuntarily placed under a conservatorship by her father, Jamie Spears and lawyer Andrew M Wallet after the singer had displayed erratic behaviour in public for several months. Spears claimed that the action that prompted the arrangement was simply speaking “in a British accent to a doctor to prescribe my medication … three days later there was a Swat team in my home, three helicopters”.
She described the “extent of my madness” as “playing chase with paparazzi, which is still to this day one of the most fun things I did about being famous, so I don’t know what was so harmful about that”.
She alleged that the arrangement was “all premeditated”, and said – apparently referring to Lou M Taylor, Spears’ former business manager and the figure believed to have introduced Jamie Spears to the idea of the conservatorship – “a woman introduced the idea to my dad and my mom actually helped him follow through and made it all happen”. Taylor has denied any involvement in its creation.
“There was no drugs in my system, no alcohol, nothing. It was pure abuse and I haven’t even really shared even half of it,” said Spears.
The Guardian has contacted representatives for Jamie Spears for comment.
In response to the tape, Spears’ mother, Lynne Spears, posted a photograph of the pair on Instagram with a lengthy caption insisting that she had tried to help her daughter. “Britney, your whole life I have tried my best to support your dreams and wishes! And also, I have tried my best to help you out of hardships! I have never and will never turn my back on you! Your rejections to the countless times I have flown out and calls make me feel hopeless! I have tried everything. I love you so much, but this talk is for you and me only, eye-to-eye, in private.”
Spears said that she was put to work directly after being hospitalised for two weeks when she was “completely traumatised out of my mind”, filming a TV show and starting work on her 2008 album Circus.
“All I remember is that I had to do what I was told. I was told I was fat every day, I had to go to the gym … I never remember feeling so demoralised … they made me feel like nothing and I went along with it because I was scared.”
In 2013, Spears commenced a residency in Las Vegas. She has previously said she was only given a $2,000 a week allowance for a four-year run of shows that earned £138m.
In the new note, she lamented that her dancers were allowed to have fun on nights out when she had to live under her father’s rules, describing it as “this conspiracy thing of people treating me like a superstar but yet they treated me like nothing”.
During the residency, she said she had hatched a plan with a man she was in a “secret relationship” with to get her out of the country.
It was working on her ninth album, 2016’s Glory, when Spears said she “started to get a spark back”.
“I think with confidence comes enlightenment, which makes you think better, and that’s the last thing they wanted me to do – was to actually be better. ‘Cause then, who would be in control then? But it was really tricky because I just had to play this role that everything was OK all the time and I had to go along with it because I knew they could hurt me.”
However, she claimed she was then forced to go on tour. At one rehearsal, as she previously alleged in her June 2021 testimony at a court hearing on the conservatorship, she refused to accept some new choreography. “The next day, I was told that I had to be sent away to a facility and that I was supposed to say on my Instagram that the reason why is because my dad is sick and I need treatment.”
When she protested with her father, she claimed that he told her: “Now, you don’t have to go, but if you don’t go, we’re gonna go to court and there’ll be a big trial and you’re gonna lose. I have way more people on my side than you. You don’t even have a lawyer. So don’t even think about it.”
At this point in her life, Spears said she “kind of stopped believing in God … I didn’t know how they could have 40 people leave my house every day and make me work from 8 to 6 at night, be seen every time I changed in the shower, no privacy, no door, nothing … I couldn’t even smoke cigarettes. People on death row can smoke cigarettes.”
She claimed that the noise made by the growing #FreeBritney movement meant that the facility’s owner had to let her out. “The whole thing that made it really confusing for me is, these people are on the street fighting for me but my sister and my mother aren’t doing anything. To me it was like they secretly, honestly, liked me being the bad one, like I was messed up and they kind of liked it that way. Otherwise, why weren’t they outside my doorstep saying: ‘Baby girl, let’s get in the car, let’s go?”
In January, Spears rebuked her sister Jamie Lynn Spears for selling a memoir “at my expense”. Jamie Lynn responded: “It’s become exhausting when conversations and texts we have in private don’t match what you post on social media. I know you’re going through a lot and I never want to diminish that, but I also can’t diminish myself.”
When she returned home, she said she found two people to help her with therapy – unlike the kind she claimed she was subject to in the facility. “Why have therapy when it’s forced and in a militant, almost prison-like way?”
She ceased talking to her father. “Finally, I think they just knew I wasn’t going back.” Prayer and being able to hire her own lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, helped her through it, she said. Previously, attempts to hire a lawyer through her own phone were thwarted, she said, because her phone was tapped and it would be removed from her.
Spears’ conservatorship was terminated by a judge in November 2021. Since its dissolution, Spears has married her long-term boyfriend, the Iranian-American actor Sam Asghari. Under the terms of the conservatorship, she wasn’t allowed to get married or manage her own birth control, she told the court.
Spears said she had declined the opportunity to be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey about her experiences. “Getting paid to tell your story, I feel like it’s kind of silly,” she said. She also said she had been scared of other people’s judgement, and of being embarrassed. She could share her story now, she said, because she had become more confident.
She referred to Hold Me Closer, her new duet with Elton John released on 26 August. “I have an amazing song right now with one of the most brilliant men of our time, and I’m so grateful.
“But if you’re a weird, introvert oddball, like me, who feels alone a lot of the time, and you needed to hear a story like this today so you don’t feel alone, know this: my life has been far from easy, and you’re not alone.”