The conclusion of Mrs Sri Lanka beauty pageant, held earlier on Sunday, took a shocking turn after the winner Pushpika De Silva, who won the title of Mrs Sri Lanka 2021, title left the stage in tears after the crown was seized from her.
Controversy erupted when a former title holder took to the stage to forcibly remove the crown from the winner's head and claimed that she was a divorcee and therefore ineligible to participate.
The video footage from the event, which showed organisers placing the winners' sash and the crown to De Silva, has gone viral on social media.
De Silva's beauty pageant crown was snatched from her moments later after she won the title. Caroline Jurie, reigning Mrs World 2020 and Mrs Sri Lanka 2019 snatched the crown from De Silva and awarded it to the first runner-up.
Jurie took to the stage and said, "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."
She then forcefully took the crown from a stunned De Silva and placed it on the first runner-up. De Silva broke into tears and walked away after thanking the judges.
The Mrs World series, founded in 1984, is an international beauty pageant for married women. Under the rules of the pageant, contestants must be "married as of the date of entry."
However, organisers declared De Silva the official winner of the pageant after the incident and said that contestants who were "legally married" were allowed to compete.
De Silva, in a Facebook post, said she was separated from her husband "for personal reasons," but they were not divorced. She added that she would have been removed from the competition at the start if she had been ineligible.
De Silva described the incident as an insult and denounced Jurie's actions. She said, "true queens do not snatch other women's crowns".
De Silva, in another Facebook post, said she had forgiven those involved.
Mrs World Inc organisers, in a statement, said that they are reviewing the incident. The statement reads, "We are deeply disturbed and sincerely regret the behaviour of our current title holder, Mrs Caroline Jurie, Mrs World 2020, at the crowning," adding the director of the Mrs Sri Lanka pageant will be asking Jurie to apologise.
"Let it be known, Mrs World Inc does not sit in moral judgment," the statement added. "If the delegate sent by Mrs Sri Lanka-World to compete in the international competition is legally married she will be accepted."
In the past, there have been many instances where winners have been dethroned or contestants have been disqualified after organisers found out they had lied.
In 2012, Carlina Duran was forced to hand over her crown after winning the Miss Dominican Republic after organisers said that she had violated the rules by hiding her marriage. In 2018, Veronika Didusenko's Miss Ukraine crown was stripped days later when it emerged that she was a divorced mother.
(With input from agencies)