The fizz had barely gone out of the champagne at the banquet to celebrate the crowning of 19-year-old Rosanna Davison, in the Sheraton Resort on Hainan Island, when the whispers started going around the ballroom: Was China's first Miss World contest a fix? 'A lot of the girls are very, very unhappy,' said a friend of one of the losing contestants. 'All through the show, the cameras kept focusing on her father. It was as if they knew from the start his daughter was going to win.' The rumours weren't confined to the powder room and the bedrooms of the crestfallen beauty queens. They tagged along behind Ms Davison as she flew out of Hainan on Sunday afternoon and are lurking in the background now that she is back home in Dublin. Other contestants complained about Miss China's third placing, grumbling that Guan Qi's position was a blatant sop to the host country. The contestant many of them rated most highly - Miss Switzerland Biana Sissing - didn't even make the top five. By Monday, headlines were appearing in newspapers as far apart as Scotland and South Africa declaring: 'Rigged contest claims dull lustre of Miss World crown' and 'Was Miss World Contest Rigged?' The claims forced irritated denials from the Miss World Organisation which insisted: 'Anyone can see why Rosanna won it. She is stunning, personable and amiable.' Of course, she also happens to be the daughter of rock star Chris de Burgh and arguably the best thing that could happen to Miss World in terms of raising the profile of a contest that has seen its global appeal dimmed considerably over the past two decades. Despite going out to a worldwide TV audience of two billion, the show's appeal in many western countries has fallen sharply since its 1970s heyday, and many major TV stations refuse to screen it, seeing it as sexist and anachronistic. 'More people used to place bets on Miss World than on the [Epsom] Derby,' said British TV personality Bruce Forsyth, who married the 1975 winner and believes the event is a victim of political correctness gone mad. Organisers said before Saturday night's contest that they wanted someone who could raise the profile of the Miss World crown by doing more during her year's reign. 'The problem has been you don't hear of Miss World from the day she wins to the day she hands the crown over a year later,' said a Miss World Organisation spokesman. 'We want someone who's going to be out there ... doing things.' So wasn't it inevitable that Miss Davison would win the title? Critics also have asked if there were connections between her family and the people behind Miss World. One of the 10 judges at the final, for instance, was Krish Naidoo, the man responsible for Miss World fundraising in Ireland and judge of the Miss Ireland contest that put Miss Davison in the finals. Miss Davison's father is also reportedly a friend of Bruce Forsyth, whose wife judged the Beach Beauty contest that propelled Miss Davison to the position of favourite. Mr Forsyth, in turn, is a four-time judge and a longtime friend of Miss World organiser Julia Morley. One of the judges, Hong Kong's Jackie Chan, didn't even turn up until Saturday, missing the vital pre-contest interviews with the contestants on Thursday. Other judges included Mrs Morley herself and two other people with strong ties to her organisation - a Mr World winner and the first African Miss World. For Miss Davison and her parents, there will be an uncomfortable sense of deja vu about the grumblings. When she won Miss Ireland earlier this year, one of the judges allegedly told journalists she was the winner hours before the results were announced. When her victory was declared, a woman stood up in the audience and shouted: 'Fix!' For the first time in Miss World's 53-year history, a Miss Beach Beauty contest was held this year - one of five mini-contests that would fast-track five girls into the final 20 of the competition. Its purpose was to make up for the lack of a swimwear section at the final. Miss Davison won, and the effect was seismic. From being quoted at 50-1 days earlier by one Irish bookmaker, her odds were cut to 4-1 by most major bookmakers in the UK and Ireland - way ahead of second favourites Miss China and Miss Norway at 12-1. Her victory as Miss Beach Beauty was surprising. Consistently praised for being articulate, intelligent and excellent in interviews, Miss Davison was not rated by other girls as the likely winner of a mini-contest that had nothing to do with cleverness and everything to do with looks. The event itself was closed to the public and held on the beach in front of the Sheraton. It was judged by a panel of just three: Julia Morley, Miss World choreographer Donna Derby and Wilnelia Forsyth. Mrs Morley had marked the contestants on their faces, Mrs Forsyth had marked them on their bodies and Donna Derby had marked them on their overall appearance, a spokeswoman for the Miss World Organisation said. Within the Miss World camp, there is an air of weary exasperation about the claims that the vote was rigged. One of the chaperones who look after the contestants said: 'I've heard some of the girls saying it was unfair. 'They're unhappy about Miss China, Guan Qi, coming third and think it's just been done to keep China happy. In fact, the only one of the top three they're happy with is Miss Canada (runner-up Nazanin Afshin-Jam). 'But the girls who don't win say this kind of thing every year. Most of it is just jealousy. I tell them to get a grip and put it behind them.' Julia Morley, meanwhile, appeared happy to have found in Hainan Island a destination so remote it kept away the mostly UK-based newspapers that have levelled similar allegations against Miss World in the past. 'I think it's been the best ever Miss World,' she said in an interview backstage, minutes after the crowning. Asked what had made it such a success, she replied: 'No journalists stirring up ****.'