LONDON: Miss South Africa, 22-year-old Rolene Strauss, was crowned Miss World 2014 at the pageant’s final in London on Sunday, with an estimated billion viewers watching on television around the globe.
Miss Hungary, Edina Kulcsar, was the runner-up and Miss United States, Elizabeth Safrit, came third in the 64th annual competition, contested by women from 121 countries.
The medical student clasped her hands together in surprise and was crowned by the outgoing Miss World, Megan Young of the Philippines, before a fireworks finale.
“South Africa this is for you,” Strauss said afterwards. “I think I will brace myself for what’s about to happen. It’s a huge responsibility.”
This year’s event has been rocked by the murder of Miss Honduras, 19-year-old Maria Jose Alvarado, who was shot dead along with her sister last month.
Their bodies were found on the day the beauty queen was due to travel to London.
Police in Honduras accuse her sister’s boyfriend of shooting them after seeing his partner dancing with another man at a party.
Strauss will travel to the violence-hit central American nation to build a school named in the sisters’ honor.
While beauty remains central to the event, the women taking part are also judged on their brains, skills and involvement in good causes.
In the Beauty with a Purpose round, contestants present a charitable project they have been working on in their homeland.
The 10 contestants who topped the final scoreboard were, in descending order, from India, South Africa, England, Guyana, Brazil, Hungary, Kenya, United States, Mexico and Australia.
They were joined by Miss Thailand, who won the People’s Choice award, voted for by people around the world through a mobile phone app.