Controversy erupted at Ms. Sri Lanka’s beauty pageant on Sunday, when a former titleholder removed the crown from the winner’s head and falsely claimed that she was a divorcee and therefore ineligible to enter.
Pushpika De Silva was named the winner of the contest to applause and cheers from spectators in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. Video footage from the event showed the organizers placing the winner’s band around De Silva and the crown on his head.
Soon after, the winner of the 2019 contest and Ms. World 2020, Caroline Jurie, took the stage and took the microphone. “I have a little request,” he said. “As for Mrs. World Inc., there is a rule that says you have to be married and not divorced. So I’m taking my first step saying that the crown goes to the first runner-up.”
Jurie then turned to a stunned De Silva, forcefully removed the crown from his head and placed her in the first runner-up, who burst into tears and thanked the judges as De Silva walked away.
The Mrs. World series is an international beauty pageant for married women, founded in 1984. Title winners from each country advance to the Mrs. World competition to face each other. Under the contest rules, contestants must be “married on the date of entry.”
After the incident, organizers declared De Silva the official winner of the contest and said in a statement that contestants who were “legally married” could compete.
“We are deeply disturbed and sincerely regret the behavior of our current title holder, Ms. Caroline Jurie, Ms. World 2020, at the coronation,” the statement said, adding that Ms. Sri Lanka’s contest director will ask to Jurie to apologize.
“Let it be known, Ms. World Inc. does not sit on moral grounds,” the organizers’ statement said. “If the delegate sent by Ms. Sri Lanka-World to compete in the international competition is legally married, she will be accepted.”
CNN has reached out to the organizers, De Silva and Jurie for comment.
The rules have been criticized before for being outdated and limited, with some urging organizers to change the guidelines.
There have been several instances where a contestant has been disqualified or the winners dethroned after the organizers found out they had lied about their marriages.