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Beauty with a Purpose

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Linda Petursdottir - Miss World 1988


Miss World & Beauty With A Purpose

Linda Petursdottir - Iceland

On November 17th 1988, my life changed a great deal because on that special day, I was crowned Miss World.

The preparation for the contest is really memorable. I think it is a wonderful experience for all of us that girls from 84 countries get together and live together for about two weeks. Many of us got to know each other quite well and became good friends and I still keep in contact with them.

On the actual night, I was really calm but at the dress rehearsal, the night before, I was so nervous. What really helped me was all the support I got from my family who came to London for the Contest, which really made me happy.

When I had been selected as one of the final 10 I was so proud, proud for my country. Then, when I heard “Miss Iceland” called as Europe’s Queen of Beauty, I just could not believe it, it was unbelievable for me.

Of course, now I was getting excited when all Continental Queens of Beauty were out there and, of course, one of them would become Miss World! It is difficult to explain in words how I felt when Mr Eric Morley called up that Miss World 1988 is… Miss Iceland!

First of all I couldn’t move for a second, I just could not believe it was really happening. I did not realise it until the next day.

The next morning was very unusual and started early with a Press meeting where I had a breakfast of strawberries and champagne. I did not really believe that all those photographers and journalists came because of me. Following a TV interview at TV AM and interviews for Icelandic TV Stations, I also went to Top Shop at Oxford Circus to give autographs. All those people waiting in line to get my picture and an autograph including my parents and brothers. So unusual! They wanted to watch their daughter / sister on her first day as Miss World. That night I was on the popular Terry Wogan Show with a very sweet lady in her 90’s who had also participated in a beauty contest when she was my age. She really was adorable.

A few days later I went on to Germany where I met the drummer in Pink Floyd, Nicki Mason.

Time went fast and on December 18th, which I had been looking forward to, I went home to Iceland. At the airport, a lot of friends came to welcome me home, including our Foreign Minister and his wife and Hofi (Miss World 1985, also from Iceland). So many flowers and so many phone calls when I came home and so many interviews. The people also had a huge homecoming party for me in the biggest night club in the country. It was a really beautiful night for me, hundreds of people there to welcome me home and everyone was so happy, especially me. I also got a lot of gifts including a Toyota car, I will never forget that night and really thank the people who made the effort to do this for me.

I am from a very small fishing village on the north-east coast of Iceland, population 900 people. When I got out of the 8 seater aircraft at Vopnafjordur, almost everyone was there. There was a big welcome home sign across the airport building which said ”Welcome home, Linda”, and the Town Council gave a very nice speechs and a little girl gave me flowers from all the people. I think it was the first time that so many people from my town got together at one place! What I was really looking forward to seeing was my dog and she really made me feel welcome home.

In January, I started travelling again, this time for Icelandic companies to promote Iceland and Icelandic goods. I am really glad that I have been able to promote my country, to do something good for it. Iceland does need more publicity because often people ask me where it is! I also tell them about how nice it is to live here, no pollution, no poverty, the crime rate is very low and people are fairly well off. It can be difficult to live out of suitcases and to maintain the image of Miss World. I am very pleased that I am able to go home every so often. It really helps.

In many of the countries I have been to, I have been asked to stand up and give a short talk ( in a microphone, of course). At first I found it quite nerve-wracking but I got used to it so I don’t mind it too much anymore. How many TV interviews I’ve been to, I don’t know but I like them and always I tell people about Iceland and the purpose of the Miss World Contest. People are always touched when they hear what “Beauty with a Purpose” is all about and how much money this organisation has raised during the year. They have not only helped children in Britain but around the whole world.

I have been able to visit so many countries. I would not otherwise have been to and some I have been to more than once.
These include:-

UK (all over)












Soviet Union




Shetland Islands

El Salvador

On my trips sometimes I had the chance to look around. I can tell you that pictures cannot replace the feeling of actually being there. For example, wandering around Red Square in Moscow, all the beautiful places in Korea, flying over the Alps in Switzerland, going to Mt. Fuji in Japan, Florence in Italy. I could keep going on because all of the countries have some very special places to see.

When I went to Spain, I felt like a real big star. I was there to promote Iceland and it was a big success. Every day of my visit there were about 50 journalist and photographers with me and waiting for me in my hotel. Wherever I went I was greeted very warmly in
all the countries.

It has been so nice to see the girls again that entered the Miss World Contest with me last year. It was always like meeting an old friend again and I still keep in contact with some of them.

I have been to quite a few hospitals around the world to visit with the children and always when I leave I go back happier and richer. Children are the people I really enjoy talking to because they are so honest and straight forward. Sometimes they do not understand English and I do not speak their language, so we just have to use hands and faces. Then we understand each other fine. No problem!

My trip to El Salvador I will always remember. The children there really greeted me kindly. They were warm and very loving. Julia and I brought with us medicine from London to the children’s hospital. I was really touched when we went to see some orphans there. They looked at me and wanted to touch me and my blond hair. The kids gave us a show which they had prepared, a few of them danced and sang a very beautiful song especially for me. I wish I could help those children more but I was so touched by them, they were happy and thankful for what they had, each other. When I was leaving, they all wanted to shake and kiss my hand. There was one boy, one of the singers, who came to me and we gave each other a big hug. When he looked at my face, there was a big tear falling down his cheek (a happy tear, I think). One day in El Salvador, a little boy named Roderico came with his parents and aunt to see Julia is her hotel room. Some years ago, Julia sent him for an operation in the USA and he came to show her how well he was doing. As soon as I saw him, I fell in love with him, his cute dark face and just the way he was one of the happiest kids I have seen. I know that sometime I will go back to see those children again and hopefully I can continue to help needy children in the world, to see what Roderico has been through and know that he is well now, made every part of my year worth the effort.

Looking back, this has been a wonderful and a very giving experience for me. I know that I have many friends all over the world now, about whom I think quite often. I would like to thank my loving family and friends back in Iceland for all their support and interest in what I have been doing. Without them it would not have been so easy.

A lot of people have been asking me if I have changed since I got the title last year. Now my answer is, in a way, yes. This year has broadened my mind and I look at the world differently now. Seeing how people on the other side of the world live and their culture has been the best education I could have. But still I think that I am the same person as I was one year ago, when I entered. I have got tired of having my picture taken thousands of times, being asked the same questions over and over but the people I have worked with have made it all easier for me. I would like to thank the Morley family, Especially Julia Morley, who has taken such good care of me and been like a good friend to me. As I hand in these notes to be printed, I still have to go the Germany and France before I go on to Hong Kong to crown the 1989 Miss World. I wish her a happy and enjoyable year to come. I hope I will still be remembered when I leave Hong Kong, not only as Miss World 1988 but also as Linda Petursdottir from Iceland.





Special Features

Each week, BWP will present a new in-depth report on one of the many charity projects worldwide that has benefitted from the work of Julia Morley and the support of Beauty with a Purpose. Keep watching this space for more details on these special features.



Julia Morley



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