‘I never wanted to do it’: American Miss Universe said she thought controversial high heels photo shoot at Taj Mahal was ‘inappropriate’
Miss Universe has said that she never wanted to take part in a controversial photo shoot in front of the Taj Mahal, branding it ‘inappropriate’.
Olivia Culpo, who is from Cranston, Rhode Island, sparked outrage by posing in a pair of high-heeled shoes while photographers snapped away with the iconic monument behind her on Sunday.
The notoriously inflexible Archaeological Survery of India lodged a police complaint against Culpo and her agency, saying the shoot violated strict product placement rules at the Taj Mahal.
But the 21-year-old, who could face two years in prison and a $1,600 fine if found guilty of the violation, has said she never even wanted to do the shoot.
Controversial: Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo has come under fire for posing in high-heeled shoes at Diana Seat on Central Tank at Taj Mahal – which is against the monument’s strict product placement rules
‘Honestly I did at one point say out loud, “Isn’t this a little inappropriate?”‘ she told the Providence Journal.
‘I was given directions to pose with the shoes and, honestly, five-inch heels on a 10-inch bench in 90-degree weather – you know, I didn’t want to do it.
‘It’s upsetting to me that I was a part of that. It’s really upsetting because I loved my visit to India, and I would love nothing more than to go back, even in the near future.’
Miss Universe officials have also released a statement apologizing for the incident.
In trouble: Culpo, who could face two years in prison for the shoot, said she felt it was inappropriate
Radiant: Culpo, who is from Rhode Island, visited India for 10 days as part of her Miss Universe duties
‘Throughout her reign, the Miss Universe Organization continually creates video diaries of our titleholder to keep fans and sponsors up to date on her travels and to share in the experience,’ their statement read. ‘As part of these videos, we sometimes incorporate sponsors into these shoots.
‘The filming that took place outside the Taj Mahal was never intended to be used as a commercial nor was it meant in any way to be disrespectful. We sincerely apologize for any unintentional harm our indiscretion and insensitivity may have caused.’
The incident took place at the marble bench popularly known as the Diana Seat, named after the now famous picture taken of a forlorn looking Princess Diana on a trip to the Taj in 1992 – which was seen to highlight the sad state of her marriage to Prince Charles.
Culpo, who is dating Nick Jonas of the Jonas brothers, was in India for 10 days to promote charitable issues such as women empowerment and AIDS awareness across the country.
Beautiful: Culpo shared this image of the Taj Mahal while on the trip. She said she would love to go back soon
Support: Miss Universe, Olivia Frances Culpo poses with Sulabh International school-children during her visit to Sulabh International Social Service Organisation in New Delhi in September
It is alleged that her team produced shoes which she started trying on as photographers snapped away and there was no objection from police on duty.
According to the Supreme Court of India, any branding or publicity in or around the Taj Mahal is prohibited under law and the ASI’s complaint alleges Culpo and her handlers fell foul of this.
‘Sandals (high heels) of a particular brand were taken out of the bag by someone in the group,’ says the ASI according to the Hindustan Times of India.
‘Culpo donned one of the sandals and held another in her hand, reportedly to advertise them while cameramen accompanying her shot the scene with the Taj in the background.’
Before India: Birthday smooch: Nick shared with his new girlfriend Olivia Culpo for his birthday in mid-September before she took off on her Miss Universe commitments
During her one-hour visIt to the world heritage site on Sunday, Culpo and her entourage seemed to show as much interest as any of the millions of tourists who visit the 360-year-old white marble mausoleum located in Agra, in the central state of Uttar Pradesh.
Built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal and completed in 1653, the Taj Mahal visit was going well until Culpo reached the marble plinth at the top of the Central Pond that leads to the entrance.
Culpo, who won Miss Universe Title last year, visited India from September 27 till October 6 as part of her Miss Universe Commitments.
Earlier in her trip, Culpo also visited the notorious Tihar jail in the capital New Delhi. While visiting the jail, she took a pledge from the inmates against violence against the women.
During her tour, Culpo was shown around and explained the functioning of the jail factory and the products manufactured by the inmates.