The Mrs. Sri Lanka beauty pageant devolved into drama last week as a former title holder of the pageant snatched the crown off this year’s winner’s head, before claiming a divorce made her ineligible to win.
Judges for the contest had named Pushpika De Silva as the winner of the contest, held in the Sri Lankan city of Colombo. In true pageant fashion, De Silva received her sash and crown amid cheers and audience applause…only to have Caroline Jurie, the winner of the same contest in 2019, grab steal the crown of De Silva’s head.
“I have a small request,” Jurie said, reports CNN. “As for the Mrs. World Inc., there’s a rule that you’ll have to be married, and not divorced. So, I’m taking my first step saying that the crown goes to the first runner-up.”
As Jurie placed the crown on the runner-up’s head, De Silva stormed off the stage.
Rules for the Mrs. Sri Lanka pageant–a subsidiary of Mrs. World, Inc.–state that contestants must be married at the time of the competition. Judges for the pageant subsequently released a statement declaring De Silva the winner.
De Silva subsequently released a pair of statements on Facebook, first disclosing that she and her husband are separated, but not divorced. Her second statement offered forgiveness to Caroline Jurie for her actions.
“I don’t hate anyone and I’ve forgiven those who did that to me at the same moment,” De Silva wrote. “Nothing can be won by hate.”
Mrs. World Inc., for its part, also released a statement on the events of the coronation.
“Let it be known, Mrs. World Inc. does not sit in moral judgment,” the statement said. “If the delegate sent by Mrs. Sri Lanka-World to compete in the international competition is legally married she will be accepted.”
Meanwhile, police arrested Caroline Jurie for her actions, later releasing her on bail. On her Instagram, she released a statement defending her actions and resigning her own crown.
“Even if I have to lose the crown for the values I stand for, I believe I am serving the purpose that the Mrs. World crown stands for,” she said in the video.
The drama around Mrs. Sri Lanka is just the latest in an industry known for controversies. In addition to critics attacking pageants such as Mrs. World for objectifying women and reinforcing negative female stereotypes, several high-profile queens have had to resign their crowns in disgrace including Miss USA 2009 runner-up Carrie Prejean, Miss Nevada 2014 Nia Sanchez, and Miss America 1984 Vanessa Williams.