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Britney tests young fans' patience

Britney is led away by a minder as she arrives late for her film's UK premiere
Britney is led away by a minder as she arrives late for her film's UK premiere  

LONDON, England -- Pop star Britney Spears was booed by fans in London as she arrived for the British premiere of her debut film.

The 20-year-old star enraged a crowd of thousands who had waited for hours in Leicester Square on Monday by failing to go on a walkabout or sign autographs before the start of her movie Crossroads.

The angry scenes were in stark contrast to the reception received by Tom Cruise at the London premiere of his movie Vanilla Sky in January when, to the delight of fans, he and girlfriend Penelope Cruz embarked on a hour-long walkabout.

He even talked on the mobile phones of some fans.

However, the animosity shown by the crowd for Britney, who was sporting a backless, halter-neck silver sequined dress, surprised many onlookers.

Having arrived almost an hour late, she was then immediately ushered inside by security staff.

The 3,000 fans who had gathered began booing and chanting her name.

Although she made a brief appearance on the cinema's balcony, many were left in tears.

Jane Willis said she had travelled with her daughter Gemma, 11, from Essex, near London, to see the star.

She told the UK's Press Association: "We've been here since 3.30 p.m.. Gemma's crying her eyes out because she couldn't see a thing.

"How does Britney expect people to go and see her film if she can't be bothered to say hello to her fans."

Fran Handley, 16, of East Sussex, southern England, said she had waited for nearly six hours in the hope of getting an autograph.

"All I saw was a flash of sequin and that was it. It wasn't worth my time."

Earlier, Britney gave her strongest on-the-record hint that she had split up with boyfriend Justin Timberlake.

Asked at a press conference if she was currently in an "intense relationship", she coyly replied: "No, I would not say I was in an intense relationship with anyone at the moment."

A smile for the cameras
A smile for the cameras  

Later, she told ITV television that she felt entitled to protect her privacy.

"People talk about my private life. That goes with what I do. You have to accept that," she said. "But if they ask about it, I say it's none of your business."

Tabloid reports on both sides of the Atlantic say she and Timberlake have parted ways, and the cover of the April 1 issue of US Weekly magazine trumpets: "Britney & Justin: It's Over."

But Spears recently told MTV that she and Timberlake were still together.

Told during her London press conference that her British fans were placing bets on her one day dating Prince William, she said: "That's nice. To be associated with him is very cool. Who wouldn't want to be a princess?"


• Spears teams with America Online
October 19, 2001
• Popstars smash Britney record
March 15, 2001
• Britney Spears tops Lycos search terms
December 21, 2000

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