At last, after 21 years of waiting, the Miss Universe crown finally returns to India.

21-year-old Harnaaz Sandhu, who represented the country at the 2021 Miss Universe pageant held in Eilat, Israel on 13 December, bested other contestants to win the said title, making it the first time for India for more than two decades following Lara Dutta’s win.


The Chandigarh-based model, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration, was crowned by her predecessor Andrea Meza of Mexico, who won the title last year. Meanwhile, the first runner-up title went to Paraguay’s Nadia Ferreira and the third place was given to Lalela Mswane from South Africa.

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The new Queen
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Harnaaz during the national costume segment

Lara, who won the crown in 2000, expressed, “I’m overjoyed and thrilled at Harnaaz’s win at Miss Universe! She was a strong contender throughout and was an exemplary representative for India on the world stage! After 21 long years, it’s a billion dreams come true! I wish her a glorious reign ahead and many great adventures as the new Miss Universe.”

Meanwhile, Sushmita Sen, who became the first Miss Universe winner from India back in 1994, posted a photo of Harnaaz on social media and wrote, “Congratulations [Harnaaz Sandhu]. Thank you for representing India so beautifully, for bringing back the Miss Universe Crown to India after 21 years (by a 21-year-old, you were destined).”

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Lara Dutta won the crown in 2000
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Sushmita Sen won Miss Universe 1994, the same year Aishwarya Rai won Miss World